SOKOR SHIPS JOIN US DRILL VS NORTH KOREA
Show of force involves 3 American aircraft carriers in rare military exercises
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.
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.
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
Trump waves after a joint press conference in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom Trump wants to act tougher against North Korea.