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S. Korea, U.S. in close consultations on combined drills: official

Defense 14:43 March 10, 2022

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is consulting closely with the United States on the timing of their annual joint military exercise and other details, a Seoul official said Thursday.

The allies have usually kicked off their springtime combined training in March. This year, however, speculation has persisted that they are postponing it due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the just-ended presidential election here, in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers voted. Many expect it will be staged within the first half of this year, with the scale and format needing to be discussed

"(We) will provide (relevant) information once the timing and format are decided through close consultations between South Korea and the U.S.," the defense ministry official told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.

Some observers raised the possibility that the election of Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative main opposition People Power Party will affect the matter, as he pledged to "normalize" the allies' combined drills. He will be inaugurated on May 10.

Critics of the liberal Moon Jae-in administration's approach toward North Korea have argued it has been lukewarm on the joint military exercise with the U.S., often scaling it down, in a bid to curry favor with the Kim Jong-un regime.


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