"Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" will start on March 23rd and April 1st. Kim Jong-un had expressed "understanding" for the "routine" of the exercises, to visiting South Korean officials. South Korean expert: possible exchange currency for negotiations
Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle", US-South Korea joint military exercises will start on March 23rd and April 1, Seoul and Washington announced.
As a rule, the two exercises take place between February and March. This year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked his US counterpart for a delay until after the end of the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympics on March18.
Although the two rounds of exercises will be "consistent" with those of the past, it is foreseeable that the two armies will maintain a low profile to avoid sabotaging the resumption of dialogue with North Korea; US strategic assets such as nuclear-powered submarines and B-1B bombers will not be included. The duration of "Foal Eagle" should be reduced to a month, half compared to last year, while "Key Resolve" will remain two weeks. In a nod to North Korea, the navy exercises "Ssangyong" (double dragon) will be held distant from the public eye.
The resumption of exercises is part of Seoul's policy not to ease the pressure on Pyongyang at the expense of the ongoing dialogue. Officials are likely to expect a more controlled reaction from the North than their previous ones: during their visit, Kim Jong-un told South Korean officials that he "understands that the routine of joint military exercises ... must continue".
According to Cheong Seong-chang, an expert researcher at Sejong Institute, the exercises could become a currency of exchange during the negotiations: "In exchange for the renunciation of nuclear power, Kim could request the end of joint military exercises, together with a peace treaty and withdrawal of economic sanctions".