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Allies in talks over renaming major combined exercises: source

All Headlines 15:27 December 10, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States are considering renaming their major annual combined exercises, apparently as part of efforts to support ongoing diplomacy with North Korea, a military source in Seoul said Monday.

The allies have been in consultation over their overall plans for next year's exercises, such as the springtime Key Resolve and the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), as they explore ways to prevent them from negatively affecting ongoing peace efforts.

"The South and U.S. have been coordinating their plans for next year's training, and they have also been mulling the possibility of renaming them," the source told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.

"But nothing has been decided yet. Sooner or later, there will be an official announcement regarding the plans for the exercises and their names," he added.

The allies have reportedly been considering changing the Key Resolve into the '19-1 Exercise and the UFG into '19-2 Exercise. Such a change, if finalized, will be the first alliance decision since current U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams took office on Nov. 8.

Some observers said that the name change appears to reflect the military authorities' efforts to avoid needlessly provoking the communist state, as Seoul and Washington have been making concerted efforts to keep Pyongyang on a denuclearization track.

Speculation has persisted that the allies could scale back or suspend some of next year's exercises to facilitate diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the North and establish a lasting peace regime on the peninsula.

This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows the national flags of South Korea and the United States and their troops in combined drills. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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