ROK, US launch joint military drill

Updated: 2013-08-19 16:06


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SEOUL - The Republic of Korea and the United States launched their joint annual military exercise on Monday as planned amid easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The computer-assisted simulation exercise, dubbed Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), was opened for a 12-day run, mobilizing around 50,000 ROK's troops and 30,000 US forces including some 3,000 soldiers from the United States and other bases in the Pacific region.

The Combined Forces Command (CFC) informed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s army of the launch of the annual drill and its non-provocative nature on August 10.

The CFC said earlier that the drill was intended to sustain the defense readiness of the ROK and the US Forces. About 28,500 US soldiers are stationed here.

The annual drill would include defense exercises against possible DPRK provocations and cyber attacks targeting the military network as well as military training to remove weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

President Park Geun-hye convened her first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) since Park took office in February, saying that "it is very important for us to prepare our own defense readiness regardless of changes in surrounding situations and inter-Korean relations".

The meeting was held at the crisis management situation room, the "underground bunker", in the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae and National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Nam Jae-joon reportedly participated in the meeting.

The drill came amid easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula after Seoul and Pyongyang reached an agreement on Wednesday to reopen their joint factory park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong.

The DPRK also accepted the ROK's dialogue offer on Sunday to discuss the reunion of families separated by the Korean War (1950-53).