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Joint military drills with US to bolster defense: minister

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Published : 2017-03-14 15:41
Updated : 2017-03-14 15:41

South Korea's defense minister on Tuesday stressed the importance of joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, saying that they will help bolster the South's defensive power, ministry officials said.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo made the remark during his visit to the command post of South Korea-US Combined Forces Command as the allies kicked off their military drills on March 1.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo visits the Marine Corps Command in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, on Feb. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

"The joint military exercises will help make South Korea's capability to defend itself stronger," Han was quoted as saying.

"The alliance is a powerful one that cannot be replaced with anything," Han said. "We need to strengthen our power to counter North Korea's evolving threats. That's a key to curbing the North's provocation and defending our freedom and peace."

Seoul and Washington kicked off their annual joint drills -- Key Resolve and Foal Eagle -- earlier this month. The two-week computer-based war game Key Resolve started Monday, while the two-month Foal Eagle combat training exercise runs through the end of April.

The allies will likely stage the Key Resolve exercises that target North Korea's nuclear and missile development facilities under simulated conditions, according to military sources.

The drills also include intercepting the North's simulated missiles with an advanced US missile defense system, known as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, and South Korea's indigenous Korea Air and Missile Defense  system.

Seoul and Washington started last Tuesday to deploy a THAAD battery on South Korean soil. South Korea is also speeding up the development of the KAMD system. (Yonhap)