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'Fewer US Troops in Joint Drill Not Due to N. Korea'

'Fewer US Troops in Joint Drill Not Due to N. Korea'”

"They should not be seen in any way as a provocative exercise", Ms Payne said.

China and Russian Federation back an idea known in shorthand as "freeze for freeze" - suggesting that the USA and South Korea should suspend its large scale annual exercises in exchange for Pyongyang halting its nuclear and missile tests.

The joint military drill has this year antagonised the North more than usual given the heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) twice in July. But this year, the bitter back-and-forth between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and President Trump may have raised the stakes.

The war games, which last 11 days, involve some 17,500 American service members, including about 3,000 from outside the peninsula, and 50,000 South Korean troops.

The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills have taken place every two years and will kick off just as the US prepares for a total solar eclipse that will track across the entire country.

Its top propaganda paper, the Rodong Sinmun, on Sunday wrote the exercise is "the most explicit expression of hostility against" North Korea, would be like "pouring gasoline on fire" and worsen the state of the peninsula.

"The president said should North Korea choose the right path, it will be able to enjoy a brighter future with the cooperation of the global community", Park said.

Warning of an "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war" on the peninsula, it added: "If the U.S. is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else's doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever".

North Korea is issuing some fresh threats.

Around 17,500 U.S. troops will participate in the drills - a cutback from previous year.

GREENE: And Elisa, briefly, I mean, you have North Korea saying that it would retaliate if it senses that the U.S.is going to strike any nuclear facilities there.

The comments from North Korea come amid heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has pressed ahead with a nuclear weapons programme despite global condemnation.

Moon said the current situation is more grave than ever before.

Despite the threat, USA and South Korean militaries launched this year's 11-day training on Monday morning as scheduled.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump vowed to respond to North Korea's actions with "fire and fury". The exercises include computer simulations carried out in a large bunker south of Seoul meant to check the allies' readiness to repel aggressions by the North.



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