Friday, 24 November, 2017

US, South Korea start drills in show of force against North

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
Melinda Barton | 11 November, 2017, 06:09

The United States and South Korea on Saturday started joint naval exercises that will involve three US aircraft carriers in what military officials describe as a clear warning to North Korea.

The South Korean military will join a rare U.S. Navy exercise off the coast of the Korean Peninsula this weekend.

The upcoming practice is aimed at bolstering the South Korea-U.S. alliance's policy of "extended deterrence" against the North's nuclear and missile provocations, it added.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said seven South Korean warships, including two Aegis vessels, will participate in the drills involving the U.S. carriers Ronald Reagan, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt and 11 U.S. Aegis ships.

It marks the first time for three U.S. aircraft carriers to conduct joint exercises with South Korea's Navy.

The MSDF said it was "using every opportunity" to strengthen the two navies' ties, and joining the three-carrier flotilla for drills was "natural" as part of efforts "to stabilize ... regional security".

The 100,000-ton US carriers carry a combined force of around 200 aircraft including F-18 strike fighters.

The deployment of the three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the region comes amid a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump to Asia.

The naval drills are aimed at sending a strong signal to Pyongyang of US ability to rapidly mobilize a potent military force.

It's the first time since 2007 that three USA carrier strike groups are operating together in the Western Pacific.

President Trump is now on a tour of Asia that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China so far.