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US, S Korean troops ready for joint war games

A file photo.

SEOUL (AFP): 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.


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