Seoul: South Korean military confirmed Thursday that it will stage its joint military drills with the US as scheduled because they are an exercise of defensive nature.

“The ‘Key Resolve’ and ‘Foal Eagle’ military exercises are carried out annually and are defensive in nature. Those are very important to defend the Republic of Korea and the Korean Peninsula,” Xinhua quoted defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok as saying in a routine press briefing.

Kim said it was not appropriate to link the humanitarian event of family reunion to the military exercises for national security, noting that the scale and schedules of the ‘Key Resolve’ and ‘Foal Eagle’ drills were already agreed on last year between Seoul and Washington.

North Korea called for South Korea to delay the joint military exercises until after the agreed family reunion during the high-level talks, the first in seven years, held Wednesday at the border village of Panmunjom.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed last week to hold reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War Feb 20-25 at North Korea’s scenic resort of Mount Kumgang.

The South Korean defence ministry Monday said the combined forces of South Korea and the US would conduct the ‘Key Resolve’ and ‘Foal Eagle’ war games from Feb 24 to April 18, dates that overlap for two days with the family reunion event.

North Korea was notified about the schedules Feb 9 via the UN Command, which oversees the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, the spokesman said.

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