Three US car­ri­ers lead naval drill aimed at N. Korea

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL, Nov 11 (AFP) - Three US air­craft car­ri­ers, ac­com­pa­nied by South Korean war­ships, launched a joint naval drill Satur­day in a fresh show of force aimed at North Korea, whose nu­clear am­bi­tions have dom­i­nated US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's on­go­ing tour of Asia.

The four- day ex­er­cise in the west­ern Pa­cific in­volves three flat­tops -- USS Ron­ald Rea­gan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roo­sevelt -- and seven South Korean ves­sels in­clud­ing three de­stroy­ers.

It is the first such triple-carri- er drill in the re­gion for a decade.

“The ex­er­cise is aimed at en­hanc­ing de­ter­rence against North Korea's nu­clear and mis­sile threats and show­ing off pre­pared­ness to fend off any provoca­tive acts by the North,” a South Korean de­fence min­istry spokesman said.

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

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

The ex­er­cises come on the heels of Trump's vis­its to Tokyo, Seoul and Bei­jing this week, which were dom­i­nated by the ques­tion of how to counter Py­ongyang's nu­clear weapons threat.

At a sum­mit in Seoul, Trump and South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-In agreed to in­crease the de­ploy­ment of US mil­i­tary as­sets around the Korean penin­sula to step up pres­sure on the North.

And in a speech to the South Korean par­lia­ment, Trump warned North Korea not to un­der­es­ti­mate the United States, while of­fer­ing leader Kim JongUn a bet­ter fu­ture if he gives up his nu­clear am­bi­tions.

The North, which this year car­ried out its sixth nu­clear test, gen­er­at­ing by far the largest yield to date, has fired dozens of mis­siles in re­cent months -- all in de­fi­ance of mul­ti­ple UN sanc­tions.

Two have over­flown key US ally Ja­pan, and the regime has claimed that it now has the tech­nol­ogy to mount a nu­clear war­head on a mis­sile that can travel as far as the US main­land.

There has been spec­u­la­tion that Kim would or­der an­other mis­sile test to co­in­cide with the US pres­i­dent's marathon visit to the re­gion which ends on Tues­day.

Since be­com­ing pres­i­dent, Trump has en­gaged in an es­ca­lat­ing war of words with Kim, trad­ing per­sonal in­sults and threats of mil­i­tary strikes and rais­ing con­cerns about an out­break of hos­til­i­ties.

SYDNEY, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Pa­pua New Guinea will de­lay by at least 24 hours a plan to forcibly evict hun­dreds of men from an aban­doned Aus­tralian de­ten­tion cen­tre, three asy­lum seek­ers said on Satur­day.

Hun­dreds of men have bar­ri­caded them­selves into the Manus is­land cen­tre for more than 11 days with­out reg­u­lar food or wa­ter, de­fy­ing clo­sure bids by Aus­tralia and Pa­pua New Guinea in what the United Na­tions calls a “loom­ing humanitarian cri­sis”.

Trans-Pa­cific trade deal ad­vances with­out United States

DANANG, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Coun­tries in the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) trade deal have agreed on the core el­e­ments to move ahead with­out the United States, of­fi­cials said on Satur­day, after last-minute re­sis­tance from Canada raised new doubts about its sur­vival.

Tak­ing the agree­ment for­ward is a boost for the prin­ci­ple of mul­ti­lat­eral trade pacts after U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ditched the TPP early this year in favour of an “Amer­ica First” pol­icy he be­lieves would save U.S. jobs.

Talks - of­ten heated - have been held on the side­lines of an Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit in the Viet­namese re­sort of Danang, where Trump and other lead­ers held their main meet­ing on Satur­day.

In­done­sian mu­seum re­moves Nazi-themed ex­hibit after out­rage

JAKARTA, Nov 11 (AFP) - An In­done­sian mu­seum that al­lowed vis­i­tors to take self­ies with a life- size wax sculp­ture of Hitler against a back­drop of Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp has re­moved the ex­hibit fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional out­rage, the man­ager said Satur­day.

De ARCA Statue Art Mu­seum in the Ja­vanese city of Jog­jakarta drew swift con­dem­na­tion from rights groups after de­tails of the con­tro­ver­sial dis­play were pub­lished in for­eign me­dia.

Top Thai royal aide sacked for 'evil acts': palace

BANGKOK, Nov 11 (AFP) - A se­nior Thai royal of­fi­cial has been sacked for “evil acts” in­clud­ing hav­ing an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair and forc­ing his al­leged mis­tress to get an abor­tion, the palace said, the lat­est top aide to be axed un­der King Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn.

Va­ji­ra­longkorn, 65, took the throne one year ago fol­low­ing the death of his widely revered fa­ther King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades.

Pro-in­de­pen­dence Cata­lans to protest in Barcelona

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