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U. S. troop reduction in exercise not due to North Korea concerns: Mattis

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A reduction in U. S. troops taking part in a joint exercise with South Korean forces this year simply reflects a need for fewer personnel and is not because of tensions with North Korea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday. About 17,500 U…
AMMAN (Reuters) – A reduction in U. S. troops taking part in a joint exercise with South Korean forces this year simply reflects a need for fewer personnel and is not because of tensions with North Korea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday.
About 17,500 U. S. service members are participating in the exercise this month, down from 25,000 last year, according to the Pentagon.
With tensions high on the Korean peninsula, China – Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner – has urged the United States and South Korea to scrap the drills, as has Russia.
Called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the joint drills will take place from Aug. 21 to Aug. 31 and involve computer simulations designed to prepare for the unthinkable: war with nuclear-capable North Korea.

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