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SEOUL — South Korea and the United States will begin eight weeks of joint military drills starting March 2, military officials said Tuesday. North Korea regularly protests the annual exercises, which it says are a rehearsal for war. The drills typically provoke heightened rhetoric and military threats from Pyongyang.
Tuesday's statement by the joint U.S.-South Korean Combined Forces Command said the North Korean army had been informed of the dates and "non-provocative nature" of the exercises. On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told his Korean People's Army (KPA) commanders to focus on "combat readiness" this year, according to state media. In 2013, following its third nuclear test, North Korea declared the armistice agreement which ended the 1950-53 war as "invalid" in response to the exercises.