North and South Korea to Hold Preparatory Talks for Summit Meeting

North Korea has long been angered by joint military exercises between the two countries

Ri will attend the Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.

Soul, Mar. 24 (BNA): North Korea has accepted South Korea's proposal to hold high-level talks on March 29 to discuss the date and agenda items for an inter-Korean summit slated for late April, South Korea's Ministry of Unification said today.

About 11,500 US and 290,000 South Korean troops will participate in the field-training exercise known as Foal Eagle, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said separately. He said the objective is to enhance the ability of the U.S. Seoul and Washington said that the exercises would begin on April 1 but will last a month rather than their usual seven or eight weeks.

The Unification Ministry in Seoul said Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will lead the South's three-member delegation to the meeting in the village of Panmunjom on the North-South border.

"Holding a North Korea-U.S. summit following a South-North Korea summit itself is a historical event".

The allies stressed that the exercises will include all service branches and won't be scaled back in scope or duration.

The two countries conduct this drill annually; however, they announced that the drilling exercises would be shortened this time around because of the diplomatic thaw with North Korea.

More news: Oil Rises To March High On Middle East Tensions, Venezuela Concerns

The exercises have long been a flashpoint for tensions on the divided peninsula because they always infuriate Pyongyang, which considers them a rehearsal for an invasion.

The timing and size of the annual maneuvers are especially sensitive this year because of heightened worry over the North's accelerated work last year on a nuclear-armed missile potentially capable of reaching the United States.

Kim Jong Un's government sent a message to its southern neighbour accepting the invitation.

Logan reiterated the military's stance that the exercises are defensive in nature and necessary to maintain readiness.

It would be only the third inter-Korean summit as the countries remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

"Enhancing the US" tough stand against North Korea, Trump administration officials, including the President, have emphasised a possible preventive military attack against North Korea.

North Korea has officially acknowledged a change in relations with the USA, but rejected any notion that President Donald Trump's sanctions and worldwide pressure played a role in advancing diplomatic talks. He also mocked Kim Jong-un, saying "Rocket Man" is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

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