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U.S.-South Korea Military Drills to be Smaller, Shorter

South Korean Army K1A1 and U.S. Army M1A2 tanks fire live rounds during a U.S.-South Korea joint live-fire military exercise, at a training field near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Pocheon, South Korea, April 21, 2017.

The United States and South Korea have decided to scale down and shorten annual joint military exercises in light of a diplomatic rapprochement with Pyongyang, a report said Friday.

The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle annual drills involving tens of thousands of troops and held every spring will begin early next month and will last for about one month, instead of two months as conducted in the past, according to a South Korean military source cited by Yonhap news agency.

U.S. strategic assets, such as B-1B bombers or nuclear-powered aircraft carrier strike groups will not take part this time, Yonhap said.

The Key Resolve drill, involving computer simulation, will last for two weeks, starting in mid-April as before, the agency’s source said.

The U.S.-South Korea joint exercises were postponed in the spirit of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in the South last month.

According to a senior official in Seoul’s presidential office, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting South Korean envoy last week that he would “understand” if the drills went ahead.

In the past, U.S.South Korea drills have infuriated the North, which condemned them as preparations for invasion and responded with provocations of its own, escalating tensions in the Korean Peninsula and with U.S.