Seoul, Washington start manoeuvers with U.S. aircraft carriers

Seoul, Washington start manoeuvers with U.S. aircraft carriers

Seoul, Washington start manoeuvers with U.S. aircraft carriers

The joint military drills of South Korea and the United States involving three aircraft carrier strike groups begin in the Western Pacific on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the US and South Korean navies launched four days of joint drills off the east coast of South Korea.

The JCS said in a statement that the exercise was seeking to strengthen and expand the dissuasive strategy to prevent Pyongyang from carrying out further provocations in the form of arms tests.

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The exercises come on the heels of US President Donald Trump's visit to Seoul and Beijing this week, with the North's nuclear and missile threats looming large.

Trump's rhetoric combined with repeated weapons tests by North Korea have increased tensions to some of the highest levels seen since the Korean War of 1950-1953.

The US administration thinks China's economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

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A total of seven South Korean navy vessels, including Aegis-equipped warships, will participate in the drill, the statement said, to accompany 14 USA naval warships.

The countries will practice air operations, air artillery strikes and aircraft carrier escorts, Reuters reported.

The goal of the exercise was to demonstrate the U.S. Navy's ability to "operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force efforts", the navy said, adding that the three carrier strike groups will conduct training including "air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishment at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuver".

Show of force coincides with US President Trump's visit to AsiaThis weekend, three American aircraft carriers will be carrying out joint exercises in the waters around the Korean Peninsula.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region. The US 7th Fleet did not mention where in the western Pacific the three aircraft carriers would be conducting their exercises.

South Korea and the United States have repeatedly said THAAD only serves to defend against the growing missile threat from North Korea.

South Korea's military announced its participation on Friday.

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