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North Korea quiet on U.S., South Korea joint drills

By Elizabeth Shim
This image released on March 5, 2018, by the North Korean Official News Service (KCNA), shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting with South Korean officials in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo by KCNA/UPI
This image released on March 5, 2018, by the North Korean Official News Service (KCNA), shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting with South Korean officials in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- North Korea is staying silent after South Korea announced joint exercises with the United States for April.

Pyongyang's state media outlets on Wednesday including KCNA, KCTV and Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun did not condemn the drills, Yonhap reported.

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North Korea media usually unleashes verbal attacks of the South following announcement of military drills with the United States.

The drills were announced Tuesday, and North Korea typically delivers a swift media response that blames a "hostile U.S. policy" for raising tensions on the peninsula.

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The absence of official statements addressing joint drills Key Resolve and Foal Eagle appears to be supporting remarks from leader Kim Jong Un to a special South Korean delegation during their recent visit to Pyongyang.

According to Seoul, Kim reportedly said he "understands" the need for the South to conduct drills in April, and "at the level of the previous year."

The last North Korean criticism of the drills came March 6, from North Korean propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri, which described the exercises as reflecting the "evil intentions" of the enemy that "worsens the situation" on the peninsula.

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South Korean analyst Kim Yong-hyun said Wednesday North Korea is acting cautiously ahead of two major summits: one with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, and a second planned summit in May with U.S. President Donald Trump.

But Kim added North Korea could still address a domestic audience with criticisms of U.S. policy in a newspaper like the Rodong.

The Hankyoreh reported this week the United States and South Korea are going with the drills as planned, but the exercises are to last for one month, in contrast to previous years, when the drills would take place for two months.

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U.S. aircraft carriers are also to not be included in the drills, according to the report.

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