Seoul, Washington start manoeuvers with United States aircraft carriers

S. Korea to train with three US aircraft carriers

S. Korea to train with three US aircraft carriers

An unnamed official with the South Korean military was quoted as saying three US aircraft carriers will stage joint drills with the South Korean military from Saturday to Tuesday in the Korea theater of operations (KTO) off the country's east coast.

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

The three carriers will be likely together in the drills around Monday.

The exercises come after the US and South Korea in their recent annual meeting on defensive policy agreed to expand the rotational deployment of strategic American military assets such as aircraft carriers, submarines and bombers to the peninsula.

The US Navy's announcement came just one day after US President Donald Trump revealed during his address to South Korea's National Assembly that "currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets".

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The Korean side will mobilize seven vessels including two Aegis ships.

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.

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.

"The U.S. efforts to expand its military influence in Asia-Pacific and the movement of big neighboring powers to contain it escalate the military tension and increase arms race in the region with each passing day", it said. The 7th Fleet said that the previous joint exercises involving three carrier strike groups had taken place off the coast of Guam in 2006 and 2007.

Trump had also delivered a sharp warning to North Korea in a speech at South Korea's parliament on Wednesday, telling the country: "Do not underestimate us". 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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