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International relations

South Korea and US begin scaled-down military drills

Attention focuses on whether North Korea will retaliate against exercises

The U.S. and South Korea are holding their first major military drills since a springtime exercise was canceled due to the pandemic.   © Reuters

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- The United States and South Korea kicked off joint military drills Tuesday, with the annual exercises scaled down amid the coronavirus pandemic, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said.

The drills, the two countries' first major military training after the springtime exercises were canceled due to rising global cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will be run mainly utilizing computer-simulated combat scenarios until Aug. 28.

The annual summertime drill was originally scheduled to start on Sunday but was delayed as one of the top officials in South Korea's military tested positive for COVID-19, according to local media reports.

Attention is focused on whether North Korea will take some type of retaliatory action as the country has been demanding that the joint drills be stopped.

Inter-Korean relations have soured since June after North Korea unilaterally blew up the joint liaison office located in the border city of Kaesong while threatening to take military action against South Korea.

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