The United States and South Korea on Tuesday announced that the annual military exercise involving the two countries would start on April 1.
The exercise was put on hold in March to avoid ratcheting up tension in the Korean Peninsula ahead of the Winter Olympics, which was held in Pyeongchang in South Korea. The two sides reiterated that North Korea should not consider the military drills a provocation.
“The United Nations Command has notified the Korean People’s Army on the schedule as well as the defensive nature of the annual exercises,” the Pentagon said.
In 2017, these drills began on March 1 and continued till the end of April. But this time, they will be held for only four weeks, the two countries said. Last year, Foal Eagle began on March 1 and continued until the end of April, lasting a total of two months.
The shorter time frame indicates that the drills might be over by the time US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meet, CNN reported. The two are scheduled to meet sometime before the end of May.
In October 2017, Pyongyang had threatened to launch nuclear strikes after the US and South Korea announced a joint military exercise. “The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting,” the North Korean state media had said.