S.Korea - U.S.- Japan kick off joint naval drill in Yellow Sea

Naval forces of South Korea, the United States and Japan on Thursday kicked off a trilateral joint drill in waters off

Naval forces of South Korea, the United States and Japan on Thursday kicked off a trilateral joint drill in waters off South Korea's southern island of Jeju, the defense ministry said.

The two-day drill, involving training in search and rescue operations and maritime interdiction operations, will mobilize destroyers, logistics support ships and antisubmarine helicopters, according to a statement made by the ministry last week.

Calling the drill of "a humanitarian nature," the ministry said it is a routine exercise launched by the three nations in 2008.

South Korea and the United States are set to stage a separate, three-day drill on June 23-25 in waters off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula.

According to the ministry, the drill will involve antisubmarine exercises, surface ship maneuvers and submarine detection exercises. The U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington is expected to join the drill.

U.S. supercarrier to lead joint drills with S. Korea off Yellow Sea

USS George Washington

A nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier is in position off the west coast of South Korea to lead large-scale military exercises aimed at honing the two countries' joint capability to cope with North Korean aggression, Seoul officials said Friday, amid the North's saber-rattling.

   About 10 warships and submarines, including the George Washington Carrier Striker Group; 8,000 personnel; and hundreds of combat aircraft from the allies will take part in the three-day exercises from Saturday, said officials at Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

   The drills, a follow-up of a two-day, trilateral naval drill with Japan in waters south of Jeju Island, will be held off the west coast town of Taean, 150 kilometers south of Seoul, JCS officials said.

   "Throughout the joint military exercises, South Korean and U.S. forces will show off their resolute capabilities," Navy Brig. Gen Park Seong-bae said. 
"We will immediately retaliate against any provocations from North Korea."

Tension on the Korean Peninsula remains high following the North's two military attacks that killed 50 South Koreans, mostly soldiers. The South's military has vowed a tougher retaliation if provoked again.

   North Korea defied international warnings again in April by launching a long-range rocket, although it ended in failure. The international community strongly condemned the launch as a cover to test international ballistic missile technology.

   This week's joint drills are partly aimed at testing the allies' ability to track and monitor a North Korean long-range missile on the assumption that the North launches such a missile, JCS officials said.

   They also plan to practice skills to detect and destroy North Korean submarines, according to JCS officials.

   North Korea's ruling party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, denounced this week the three-nation exercise as a "reckless provocation."

   "The dangerous moves to knock into shape the triangular military nexus is an act going against the trend of the times for regional peace and stability, including on the Korean Peninsula," it said.

   "Dark clouds of a new war are thus hanging heavily in Northeast Asia, including the peninsula," the newspaper said.

   The two Koreas remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. On Monday, both Koreas will mark the 62nd anniversary of the start of the war. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.

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