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(2nd LD) S. Korea, U.S. begin joint military exercise

2017/03/01 16:13

(ATTN: CLARIFIES para 5)

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States on Wednesday kicked off an annual joint military exercise amid heightening tensions following the North's recent missile test and the death of its leader's half brother.

Foal Eagle, a field training exercise involving ground, air and naval forces, will run through the end of April. Separately the allies plan to conduct Key Resolve, a computer-simulated command post exercise, starting March 13, the defense ministry said.

North Korea denounced the joint drills as a rehearsal for invasion.

The U.S. plans to send strategic assets, such as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, the F-35B aircraft and Osprey, to the joint exercise, according to a U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) spokesman. The B-1B and B-52 bombers could also join the drill.

The Carl Vinson, which made a port call in Guam on Feb. 10, will join the drill in mid-March and the F-35B will take part in the exercise sometime this month, he said.

The two allies are likely to deploy major strategic assets to the drills to deliver a stern warning against the North's continued provocations.

Some 3,600 U.S. soldiers will join the Foal Eagle exercise this year, according to the spokesman.

On Feb. 12, Pyongyang test-fired a newly developed intermediate-range ballistic missile Sunday morning in its first provocation since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

This undated Yonhap News TV image shows soldiers and strategic assets during the South Korea-U.S. joint springtime exercises in 2016. (Yonhap) This undated Yonhap News TV image shows soldiers and strategic assets during the South Korea-U.S. joint springtime exercises in 2016. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr

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