South Korea Announces Plan for Major Military Drill

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea has announced plans for a major nationwide military exercise aimed at sharpening combat capabilities against any future North Korean provocations.

The military said Thursday the seven-day annual exercise will begin next week and involve all branches of the South Korean services. The program will include a joint drill with U.S. forces.

South Korean commanders say the exercise will include defense drills for islands in the Yellow Sea including Yeonpyeong Island, which was fatally shelled by North Korean forces during a South Korean artillery drill last year.

The latest exercise, named “Hoguk,” will run from October 27 to November 4.

The exercise comes at a time of slowly easing tensions with North Korea, which routinely denounces such drills as rehearsals for an invasion of the North.

The relationship sank to one of its lowest points following the North's attack on Yeonpyeong in November, which killed two marines and two civilians. Seoul also blames Pyongyang for the sinking of the warship Cheonan in March last year.

However the countries have held two rounds of talks since July on North Korea's request for a resumption of six-nation talks on its nuclear programs. There is also a proposal for a natural gas pipeline that would carry Russian natural gas to South Korea through the North.