K-pop stars to perform in North Korea in art troupe visit

US-South Korea military drills to resume despite thaw with nuclear-armed North Korea

Red Velvet, Girls' Generation's Seohyun, and more to perform at North Korea concert

The exercises begin with Foal Eagle, a field training drill that will last about four weeks, compared with its typical two-month run.

The U.S. and South Korea will resume joint military exercises next month, after delaying them for the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The South Korean official said consultations were underway over whether USA strategic assets such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or bombers would be deployed for the drills.

The Pentagon said the United Nations Command has notified North Korea's military of the upcoming exercises.

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The commentary in the North's official news agency KCNA late on Tuesday (March 20) did not directly mention the summits but noted the "dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation" with the South and "a sign of change" with the US.

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While it has not tested a missile or nuclear device this year, the North maintained a torrid pace of nuclear and ballistic-missile testing in 2017 - including the launch of two intermediate-range missiles over Japan.

The Pentagon said in a short statement that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, had agreed to go forward with the exercises, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, "at a scale similar to that of previous years".

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"It is good to have the discussion going on and take the use of this time frame that was opened between the South and North Korea before the (Winter) Olympics (last month)", Soini said.

The Olympics brought a thaw in North Korean relations with the South and the USA, and Pyongyang has agreed to separate summits with both countries. Washington and Seoul insist they are defensive and are needed to keep allied forces combat-ready.

"I think both the South and the USA are staging a relatively low-key exercise in a bid not to unnecessarily provoke the North in this mood of rapprochement", Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University. Calls for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons will feature prominently on the agenda, but artists are simply expected to focus on their performances.

According to the South Korean envoy who met with Kim in Pyongyang, the North Korean leader also offered to consider abandoning his nuclear weapons in exchange for United States security guarantees and flagged a halt to all missile and nuclear tests while dialogue was underway.

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