The United States and South Korea will end their large joint annual military exercises, which regularly trigger North Korean anger, the South Korean Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
These two exercises, dubbed “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle”, will be replaced by more limited maneuvers “to preserve a solid military preparation” forces stationed in South Korea, said the ministry in a statement.
This decision was made during a telephone conversation between South Korean and US Defense Ministers Jeong Kyeong-doo and Patrick Shanahan, three days after a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the US President Donald Trump in Hanoi . The summit was concluded without agreement, but the two leaders wanted to keep the door open.
Citing the joint statement, the US channel CNN says, “The decision to adapt the training program reflects a desire to reduce tensions in the region and support denuclearization efforts on the Korean peninsula.”
The “Foal Eagle” maneuvers, which usually take place in the spring, trigger anger every year by Pyongyang, who sees it as a general rehearsal of an invasion of North Korea.
Each year, up to 200,000 South Korean soldiers and some 30,000 US soldiers participate in “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve”.
Since the first summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore last June, the United States and South Korea have reduced or eliminated several joint military exercises, and US bombers no longer fly over South Korea.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained about the costly nature of these exercises. He, however, ruled out the withdrawal of some 28,500 US troops deployed in South Korea to protect her from her northern atomic bombed neighbor.
On Saturday, President Trump said that North Koreans will have “no economic future if they seek to acquire nuclear weapons,” while calling the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang “very, very strong.”
No military impact
“At this point, not to diminish or suspend maneuvers would mean that none of the countries involved is serious” in its desire to reach an agreement on the denuclearization of North Korea, said Professor Yang Moo-jin, from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
Most analysts believe that the elimination of major annual maneuvers will have little military impact.
Suspending or limiting US-South Korean exercises could affect the readiness capabilities of both armies, but I do not think this will pose a serious threat to the security of South Korea.
Ahn Chan-il, President of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul
“The South Korean conventional forces are far superior to those of the North, and given the current situation (with the strong presence of the US military in South Korea and the international sanctions against North Korea, Ed), it is highly It is unlikely that Pyongyang will do anything with its nuclear weapons in the near future, “Ahn Chan-il, chairman of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul
Sydney Emery is a Senior Reporter here at Rise Media covering state and national politics, . Before joining Rise Media, Sydney worked as a contributor to Buzz Feed.. Sydney has worked as a freelance journalist in New York, having been published by over 20 outlets including NPR, the Center for Media and VICE.com.