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U.S., South Korea exercises headed to Fort Irwin

U.S., South Korea exercises headed to Fort Irwin
U.S.-South Korea joint exercises are to be partly held in the United States, Seoul said Monday. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea could move forward with plans to conduct joint exercises in the United States following strong condemnations from Pyongyang.

South Korea Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said Monday at a regular press briefing aspects of bilateral drills could take place outside the peninsula, Newsis reported.

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"At present the [South Korean] military is preparing for a robust defense posture and operational control transfer with the revitalization of joint training in the United States," Choi said.

Choi said the two countries are prepared to carry out small-scale exercises at the United States' National Training Center in Fort Irwin. Training of armored units is not part of the plan, however, Choi said.

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The bilateral decision to hold the joint exercises outside the peninsula comes at a time when North Korea has repeatedly slammed Seoul and Washington for alliance exercises.

North Korea continued to criticize the South for coordination with the United States on Monday.

Pyongyang propaganda service Uriminzokkiri said a working group between Washington and Seoul is the new "governor-general of Chosen" in a comparison of the alliance to Japanese colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

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"The presidential Blue House [in Seoul] made the biggest mistake in creating the U.S.-South Korea working group," North Korea state media said.

Uriminzokkiri also claimed there is "nothing the South Korean authorities can do" without the permission of the United States.

"The United States may jabber on about a blood alliance but internally they harbor other intentions, and believe South Korea must follow their intentions unconditionally," Uriminzokkiri said. "The United States sees the South as a puppet, or a taker of bullets."

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South Korea is discussing military cooperation with the United States.

News 1 reported Monday the South Korean navy chief is to meet with Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Tuesday to discuss "mutual cooperation."

South Korea recently deployed its anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz following requests from the United States.

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