Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

US, South Korea joint military drills begin in Western Pacific

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers his speech on the 2018 budget bill during a plenary session at the National Assembly in Seoul South Korea S. Korea's top diplomat discuss North Korea with Canadian, New Zealand counterparts
Saul Franklin | 12 November, 2017, 02:14

"South Korea and the U.S. are now discussing whether or not the South Korean Navy will take part in the exercises as well", the source said.

The JCS said the three U.S. Nimitz-class supercarriers - the "largest warships in the world" - will not be deployed on the Korean peninsula at the same time.

Also to be mobilized are 11 U.S. Aegis ships and seven South Korean warships.

During the joint drill, the two countries will practice air operations, air artillery strikes and aircraft carrier escorts to test their ability to jointly carry out such operations.

Tensions have been running high since North Korea test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and flew ballistic missiles over Japan on August 29 and September 15.

Nuclear-armed North Korea regularly denounces such military drills as rehearsals for invasion and sometimes conducts its own military manoeuvres or missile tests in response.

The manoeuvers are the first in 10 years in which three aircraft carriers have been involved, reports Efe news.

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The defense ministry, however, has ruled out the possibility of trilateral military drills with Japan.

South Korea and the United States on Saturday kicked off a joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan involving three US aircraft carriers amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The last time such drills were held was during the Valiant Shield exercises in 2006 and 2007, which took place off the coast of the US territory of Guam, which hosts two USA military bases and is on the North Korean radar for a potential missile strike.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region. They will successively enter the exercise area in global waters east of the Korean Peninsula over the weekend, and at one point around Monday will operate together.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) submitted the text to the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Ways and Means Committee Thursday after President Donald Trump's state visit to Seoul earlier this week. The last time such a convergence of military power occurred was in 2007 in waters off the United States territory of Guam.

South Korea's military announced its participation on Friday.

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