US, SKorea to go ahead with Olympic-delayed drills

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Talks to stage a postponed military drill between South Korea and the United States are moving forward, South Korea's Unification Minister said yesterday.

Experts say while the South and North have, so far, managed to collaborate in arranging North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Games, the two sides are unlikely to see eye-to-eye on ways to defuse military tensions.

The report, however, did not mention the Foal Eagle drills, which are a series of joint and combined ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, or the exact schedule for the Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, according to Yonhap.

In a pair of blistering commentaries released Monday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency blasted the USA over what it said were moves to stifle the emerging intra-Korean detente, saying that the country is "fully ready for both dialogue and war" and prepared to respond to any US "provocation by prompt counterstrike".

Pyongyang has already warned that it will not remain silent if Washington and Seoul continue with military exercises.

In January, U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-agreed to postpone an exercise called Foal Eagle, which usually entails 200,000 South Korean and 30,000 American troops, to ensure better security at the Winter Games.

"The South Korean and the US government together announced that the joint exercises have been postponed based on Olympic spirit", Song said at a meeting of the National Assembly's National Defense Committee.

Defense Minister Song Young-moo dismissed that idea on Tuesday, telling a parliamentary defense committee that the allies would announce the start date for the drills by the end of March, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

Following the postponement decision, North Korea agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea over the past two years.

North Korean state media published several editorials Monday railing against the USA and joint drills.

North Korea has won positive press for their Olympic diplomatic maneuvers.

The Olympics have ushered in a welcome period of calm on the divided peninsula after months of saber rattling between Washington and Pyongyang over the North's nuclear weapons program.

China looks set to be angered by the move in addition to the North, having already expressed concerns about drones as well as South Korea's deployment of a THAAD missile defense battery past year.

The North's response continued: "It is a provocative act of chilling the active efforts of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and enthusiasm of the global community to defuse tension and create a peaceful environment".

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