The United States and South Korea are resuming joint military exercises Sunday on the Korean Peninsula after a hiatus because of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Seoul's defense ministry said the springtime Foal Eagle kicked off with 11,500 USA troops and 300,000 South Korean soldiers taking part in the field training exercise, one of the largest military drills conducted annually in the world, SBS reported.
The two allies will also carry out the two-weeks Key Resolve maneuvers, an exercise including computer-based simulations from April 23 with the participation of 12,200 United States soldiers.
The Foal Eagle drill started the same day as a historic concert by South Korean pop stars in Pyongyang, which was to be staged late yesterday as a peace gesture ahead of this month's inter-Korea summit.
A Pentagon spokesman said the drills will feature about 23,700 USA troops and 300,000 South Korean forces.
During last year's Foal Eagle exercises, the North launched a number of ballistic missiles.
The duration of Foal Eagle has been shortened to a month, with no major USA strategic assets such as supercarriers and nuclear subs expected to show up.
The drill - which was delayed to avoid clashing with February's Winter Olympics in the South - will be held for a month in April, about have the time it usually lasts.
A summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump is anticipated by the end of May amid global diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff over the North's nuclear program.
But military officials say the period of the drills will be halved to about one month, and there are now no plans to include USA aircraft carriers or bombers.
In March, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang that he "understands" the situation regarding the joint drills, according to South Korea's National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, who had led the delegation.
South Korean President Moon Jae In is scheduled to meet Kim in a rare summit on April 27 in the Peace House on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom.