Seoul:Even as efforts are underway to ensure a big meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is held next month in Singapore, South Korea and the US have begun large-scale annual joint air manoeuvers.
The joint air exercises is an annual affair and it will go on for two weeks. This Max Thunder exercises are being held after Seoul and Washington postponed the dates of their other joint manoeuvers, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, due to the inter-Korean summit in April.
Unlike in the past, the exercises will have new highlights.
For instance it will include some 100 fighters and bombers, and will deploy F-22 jets for the first time. The purpose of the manoeuvers is amply clear. The idea is to improve the aerial capabilities of the allies, at a time of detente on the Korean peninsula following Pyongyang’s historic decision to enter into dialogue with Seoul. This led to the historic inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April.
Pyongyang used to condemn theses war games, considering them a rehearsal for invading its territory, and usually responded to the manoeuvers with missile tests. This year, during a meeting with South Korean officials in March the North Korean regime expressed its understanding of the need for Washington and Seoul to hold such exercises.