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N. Korea Denounces Joint Exercise

October 26, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea accused the U.S. and South Korean militaries Thursday of hurting thawing relations by holding a joint military exercise.

The two militaries on Wednesday began the 10-day Foal Eagle exercise, the biggest of several joint training maneuvers held annually.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had ended a visit to Pyongyang on Wednesday, citing progress in resolving issues such as the North’s missile development.

``The maneuvers prove that the U.S. is still pursuing the policy of strength in its strategy towards (North Korea) and that the South Korean authorities are following with increased zeal the U.S. strategy,″ a spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in remarks carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

``It is as good as spoiling the good atmosphere created in favor of reconciliation and cooperation,″ said the spokesman, who was not named.

South Korea and the United States have characterized past military exercises as defensive, but North Korea has denounced them as a rehearsal for a northward invasion. About 37,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.

The Foal Eagle exercise, held since 1961, is to test rear area protection operations and major command, control and communications systems and involves field training for U.S. and South Korean troops, military officials said.

The size of this year’s exercise was not announced. In last year’s maneuvers, 500,000 South Korean and 30,000 U.S. troops were mobilized for sea, land and air drills.

Similar exercises earlier this year were scaled down amid thawing relations between two Koreas following a historic summit of their leaders in June.

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