US, South Korea will proceed with drill

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iol news pic North Korea War Games Associated Press US and South Korean army soldiers cross the Nam Han river during a joint military exercise. File picture: Ahn Young-joon

Seoul - The United States and South Korea will hold their annual joint military drills from February 24 to April 18, the combined forces command that oversees the allies said on Monday, and Pyongyang had been notified of the plan.

The announcement comes after a nuclear-capable US B-52 bomber sortie last week prompted angry reactions from North Korea, which threatened to reconsider plans for reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

“The United Nations Command has informed the Korean People's Army in North Korea through their Panmunjom mission about both Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercise dates and the non-provocative nature of this training,” the command said in a statement.

North Korea has rescinded a recent invitation to US special envoy Robert King to discuss the release of imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae for the second time after it withdrew King's planned trip in August.

It was not clear whether the latest withdrawal of the invitation was the result of the decision by the United States and South Korea to go ahead with the drills.

North Korea has called for the cancellation of the drills, describing them as a prelude to war and warning the exercise could imperil the family reunion plan.

Last year, North Korea threatened nuclear attacks against the US and its allies at the height of tensions coinciding with the US and South Korean drills. - Reuters



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