Three US carriers lead naval drill aimed at N. Korea

US, South Korea joint military drills begin in Western Pacific

South Korea's military says the battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Nimitz will successively enter the exercise area during the drills that run until Tuesday.

This is the first time the South Korean Navy has conducted a joint drill with three US aircraft carriers, meaning the exercise will exert heavy military pressure on North Korea.

The JCS said in a statement that the exercise was seeking to strengthen and expand the dissuasive strategy to prevent Pyongyang from carrying out further provocations in the form of arms tests.

President Trump is now on a tour of Asia that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China so far.

The military drills come as tensions remain sky-high as US President Donald Trump visits the region with the nuclear threat from North Korea dominating discussions.

Seven South Korean Naval vessels will partake in the joint drill.




"The participating forces of the two nations plan to enhance combined operation capability and interoperability through aircraft carrier escort operation, aviation operation and aerial firing", said the JCS.

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. U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift described the training as a "rare opportunity".

The U.S. Navy's previous training operation involving three carriers was in the vicinity of Guam in the Western Pacific in 2007 during the Valiant Shield exercise.

The carriers, already operating in the Western Pacific, will sail one by one into the waters east of Korea for the event, it added.

In his speech before South Korea's National Assembly Wednesday, Trump told North Korea: "Do not underestimate us, and do not try us".

Trump on Tuesday reiterated his goal to achieve what he called "peace through strength", warning the USA could use "the full range of our unmatched military capabilities" against Pyongyang.

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