South Korean pop sensations Seohyun, Red Velvet to visit North next month

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met with US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan at the State Department on Friday

"It looks like he is concentrating on preparations for summits with South Korea and the United States, weighing Washington's intentions, Seoul's position as well as the general atmosphere among other things", said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University.

In yet another diplomatic huddle, South Korea and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet this week to discuss North Korea's nuclear issue and nonproliferation, the foreign ministry told a regular briefing on Tuesday.

Over a week ago, U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to meet top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un by May "to achieve permanent denuclearization", a big step forward following the announcement that the third inter-Korean summit is expected to be held in late April. A specific date and location for the meeting, set for sometime in the next couple months, has not yet been finalized.

Both countries said in a statement that the the "Foal Eagle and Key Resolve" drills would restart and last for four weeks.

South Korea's Defense Ministry released a near-identical statement. Speaking in an interview with MTV broadcaster, Soini said Pyongyang's nuclear programs were not on the table. The United States sent such assets during past drills when tensions ran high.

In 2017, these drills began on March 1 and continued till the end of April.

The U.S. military said the exercises would be similar in size and scope to previous ones, which have involved thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops, in addition to ships and aircraft. "Now it's a dialogue mode so they are trying to keep pace with that", said Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies. It would amount to a relinquishing of duty for the state to do otherwise, especially in a country where nearly 30% of its population was wiped out the last time it was invaded by the U.S. This was followed, unexpectedly, by prospects for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis.

The annual military exercise involving US and South Korean forces will be of a particular interest, as Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump have accepted to hold talks, a "first" since the cease-fire of 1953.

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