Seoul: US and South Korean troops are
preparing for their annual joint war games in coming weeks, an official said Wednesday, despite the sensitive power transition
underway in North Korea.
The two countries "are preparing for the Key Resolve
exercise", a US military spokesman told AFP, adding the
schedule was not finalised.
South Korea`s defence ministry declined to comment. Media reports said the exercises, which the North blasts as warmongering, would go ahead as scheduled.
Pyongyang last year threatened a military response to the
fortnight-long Key Resolve computerised drill, which is
normally followed by a joint air, ground and naval training
exercise known as Foal Eagle lasting several weeks.
The exercises last year involved 12,300 US troops and some
200,000 South Korean service members including reservists.
They passed off without incident.
Seoul and Washington, which bases 28,500 troops in the
South, say the drills are defensive and routine but the North
habitually terms them a rehearsal for invasion.
It has taken a hostile tone with the South since its
leader Kim Jong-II died on December 17 and was replaced by his
youngest son Jong-Un.
The new leader has been appointed armed forces chief and
has visited several units in an apparent attempt to burnish
his military credentials.
This year`s Key Resolve will start on February 27, the
Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper reported.