US Allies-North Korea: Yesterday at Panmunjom, South Korean authorities notified their North Korean interlocutors of the dates of annual Allied spring military training.
The "Key Resolve" command post exercise will run from 24 February to 6 March. The "Foal Eagle" field training exercise will continue until 18 April.
"Key Resolve" will involve 5,200 US military personnel, including 1,110 overseas reinforcements - an increase of 1,700 soldiers from last year.
Military strength for the "Foal Eagle" exercise is set to decrease this year. Of the 7,500 expected participants, 5,100 of this number will arrive from abroad.
Comment: The North Koreans at Panmunjom made no comment. North Korea did cancel a visit by a US official who reportedly was to visit Kenneth Bae, an American in North Korean custody. Last week, the National Defense Commission denounced the training as a threat to reconciliation gestures
On the other hand, former US ambassador to the Republic of Korea Donald Gregg and his team from the Pacific Century Institute arrived in Pyongyang. The North did not state the purpose of Gregg's visit but the North has a longstanding practice of using indirect channels and trusted proxies to communicate with the US to supplement or bypass official channels.
Kaesong update. The two Koreas reached agreement on the use of Internet services within the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), the South Korean Ministry of Unification reported today.
An inter-Korean committee charged with discussing matters of passage, communications and customs related to the KIC reached the agreement on the 7th, which includes issues pertaining to connectivity, service provision routes, security measures and user verification.
The first step to full connectivity will be the creation of an "Internet cafe" within the existing KIC support center. This will contain 20 computers. Thereafter, individual companies are set to receive full connectivity to their offices.
"We are planning to launch the basic level of Internet services at the Kaesong Industrial Complex starting in the first half of this year," a spokesperson explained. "Officials and employees in the North's border city will be able to use most of the online services now available in South Korea."
The spokesperson went on to add that the move to deliver Internet provision within the KIC is intended to "enhance efficiency, cut costs and guarantee security." The lack of Internet provision is rumored to be one of the stumbling blocks to significant outside investment in the KIC.