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US, South Korea end annual military drills

IANS | Seoul |

South Korea and the US on Sunday ended their annual joint military exercise, the biggest ever drill of its kind, amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

South Korean military authorities said the Foal Eagle exercises, in which both countries' infantry, navy and air force took part, concluded as per schedule, Efe news reported.

In this year's drill, which began in early March, more than 10,000 US soldiers took part along with hundreds of thousands South Korean troops in what was the largest exercise ever conducted on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea, which considers all joint exercises as an attempt to invade its territory, heavily criticised the military deployment, which coincided with a period of heightened tension between Washington and Pyongyang over Kim Jong-un's repeated tests of missiles.

The final stage of the exercise comes a day after the North Korean regime carried out its latest such trial.

Saturday's test, however, ended in failure, with the missile exploding immediately after launching, as reported by Washington and Seoul.

The US chose to send its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the region in response to Pyongyang's repeated tests.

In March, the large-scale Foal Eagle exercises overlapped with the annual simulated joint US-South Korean combat drills "Key Resolve".

The two-week long Key Resolve exercise aims to prepare the allies for a possible attack from Pyongyang.