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Defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States agreed Friday to hold larger-scale joint war games this spring to contain possible provocations from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Seoul's defense ministry said.
Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo held their first talks in Seoul since the Trump administration was launched last month.
A senior South Korean defense ministry official told reporters that the two defense ministers shared the need for stronger Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint war games this year to contain DPRK provocations, according to local media reports.
The Key Resolve command post exercise and the Foal Eagle field training exercise tend to be conducted between March and April every year. Pyongyang has denounced those as a rehearsal for northward invasion.
Seoul and Washington caution about possible DPRK provocations around the start of the springtime war games, the Seoul ministry official said.
During the joint military exercises, the United States can reportedly mobilize an aircraft carrier and other strategic assets such as nuclear-capable bombers.
Mattis arrived in South Korea on Thursday, meeting with senior officials including Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn who is serving as acting South Korean president as well as top presidential security advisor Kim Kwan-jin.
The first Pentagon chief under Trump administration flied to Japan for another two-day travel. （APD）