SOKOR SHIPS JOIN US DRILL VS NORTH KOREA

Show of force in­volves 3 Amer­i­can air­craft car­ri­ers in rare mil­i­tary ex­er­cises

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE -

SEOUL— South Korean war­ships will take part in up­com­ing joint drills in­volv­ing three US air­craft car­ri­ers in a fresh show of force against North Korea, a Seoul mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said on Fri­day.

The US Navy said Thurs­day that the three ves­sels—the USS Ron­ald Rea­gan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roo­sevelt—will con­duct “co­or­di­nated op­er­a­tions in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters” in the western Pa­cific be­tween Satur­day and Tues­day.

It is un­usual for Wash­ing­ton to have three of its air­craft car­ri­ers in the same place at the same time, and US Pa­cific Fleet com­man­der Scott Swift said in a state­ment it was the first such triple-car­rier drill in the re­gion since 2007.

In­va­sion plans

Seven South Korean navy ves­sels—three de­stroy­ers and four es­cort ships—will take part in the ex­er­cises, the South Korean of­fi­cial said.

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

The US war­ships will carry out air de­fense drills, sea surveil­lance, de­fen­sive air com­bat train­ing and other train­ing op­er­a­tions, the US Navy said.

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.

On Wed­nes­day, Trump warned North Korea not to “try” the United States but ap­peared to mod­er­ate his bel­li­cose tone some­what, of­fer­ing Py­ongyang’s young leader Kim Jong-un a “path to a bet­ter fu­ture.”

In Bei­jing, Trump had hoped to get firmer com­mit­ment from Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping for tougher ac­tion against Py­ongyang.

Trump on Fri­day said the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion was be­ing held hostage by the “twisted fan­tasies” of North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un, as he called on coun­tries to stand united against Py­ongyang.

Re­gion’s fu­ture

Trump has em­barked on a tour of Asia this week try­ing to rally regional sup­port for curb­ing North Korea’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram, warn­ing that time is run­ning out over the cri­sis.

“The fu­ture of this re­gion and its beau­ti­ful peo­ple must not be held hostage to a dic­ta­tor’s twisted fan­tasies of vi­o­lent con­quest and nu­clear black­mail,” he said in a speech in Viet­nam to the an­nual Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (Apec) fo­rum.

The re­gion, he added, must “stand united in declar­ing that ev­ery sin­gle step the North Korean regime takes to­ward more weapons is a step it takes into greater and greater dan­ger.”

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

“China can fix this prob­lem eas­ily and quickly, and I am call­ing on China and your great pres­i­dent to hope­fully work on it very hard,” said Trump.

Trump also said civ­i­lized peo­ple must “come to­gether” to drive out ter­ror­ists and ex­trem­ists from so­ci­eties.

China can fix this prob­lem eas­ily and quickly Don­ald Trump US pres­i­dent

—AP

Trump waves af­ter a joint press con­fer­ence in Bei­jing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, whom Trump wants to act tougher against North Korea.

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