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S.Korea, US Kick off Joint Naval Exercise Involving 3 US Carriers

12 November 2017

South Korea's military announced Friday it will kick off a rare combined exercise with three US aircraft carriers near the peninsula this weekend aimed at demonstrating the allies' firm defense posture against North Korean threats.

South Korean military said it's the first time since 2007 that the three battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Nimitz have operated together in the Western Pacific.

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.

Trump also warned North Korea not to underestimate the United States in a speech to the South Korean parliament on Wednesday, while offering leader Kim Jong-Un a better future if he gives up his nuclear ambitions.

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Trump's rhetoric combined with repeated weapons tests by North Korea have increased tensions to some of the highest levels seen since the Korean War of 1950-1953.

From the South Korean side, two Aegis-equipped destroyers, one destroyer and four frigates will be mobilized for the joint exercises with the US carriers, according to Yonhap.

It's the first time since 2007 that three U.S. carrier strike groups are operating together in the Western Pacific.

The countries will practice air operations, air artillery strikes and aircraft carrier escorts, Reuters reported.

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The drills are scheduled to take place from November 11-14 in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan in an ongoing naming dispute between South Korea and Japan. U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift described the training as a "rare opportunity".

Yonhap said the three aircraft carriers will enter the KTO one by one as the strike groups sail with a certain distance from each other.

The exercises come on the heels of Trump's visits to Seoul and Beijing this week, which were dominated by the question of how to counter Pyongyang's nuclear weapons threat. The last time such a convergence of military power occurred was in 2007 in waters off the USA territory of Guam.

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S.Korea, US Kick off Joint Naval Exercise Involving 3 US Carriers