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Korea joint exercise in Sea of Japan gets underway

12 November 2017

South Korea and the United States started large-scale military manoeuvers on Saturday off the Korean peninsula in which three American aircraft carriers are taking part.

The joint chiefs of staff of South Korea said in a statement in Seoul that its naval vessels will participate in the drills.

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

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.

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Three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and 11 Aegis ships from the U.S. Navy, as well as seven warships - including two Aegis destroyers - will be mobilized in the drills staged in the Korean Theater of Operations (KTO).

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

"The training is aimed at restraining North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations and showing our military's strong willingness to act and military preparedness", the JCS said, quoted in the local press.

The U.S. and South Korea kick-off a landmark operation in the Western Pacific.

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The carriers, already operating in the Western Pacific, will sail one by one into the waters east of Korea for the event, it added.

Pyongyang detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb in September after months of ballistic missile tests that riled Washington and its allies Japan and South Korea.

"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three", U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift said on Tuesday.

After President Donald Trump described his strategy on containing North Korea as "peace through strength", Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the North Korean ruling party's mouthpiece, published an article on Friday protesting the drills and vowing to "defend peace until the end". The last time such a convergence of military power occurred was in 2007 in waters off the USA territory of Guam.

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Korea joint exercise in Sea of Japan gets underway