Three US supercarriers to conduct joint drills in waters off Korean peninsula

President Trump outside the National Cemetery in Seoul on Nov. 8. Credit Jung Yeon-je  Getty Images

The four-day military exercise will begin off the east coast of South Korea on Saturday.

According to reports, the exercise will involve seven South Korean and 11 US ships, as well as the USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Nimitz.

The country's joint chiefs of staff (JCS) announced Friday that South Korea will send seven of its warships-including two Aegis Combat System-equipped vessels, one destroyer and four frigates-to join three USA aircraft carriers deployed in the Western Pacific that will perform their first joint drill in a decade. The Aegis technology refers to missile tracking and guidance.

"The training is aimed at restraining North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations and showing our military's strong willingness to act and military preparedness", the JCS said, quoted in the local press.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Thursday confirmed to media that this will be the first time that the ROK and the US navies stage joint bilateral drills with the three aircraft carriers in waters off the east coast of the country. The U.S. carriers will also participate in separate exercises with three Japanese destroyers on Sunday, according to Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.

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Trump said in a speech at South Korea's parliament Wednesday, "Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets".

The exercise is taking place while U.S. President Donald Trump is on an Asian tour and presenting a united front with regional leaders.

The United States has been sending its strategic assets, also including long-range bombers, to the region more frequently for patrols or drills amid accelerating North Korean efforts to expand its nuclear weapons program. It also flew two new midrange missiles over Japan and threatened to launch them toward Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory and military hub.

On the Korean Peninsula situation, Xi told Moon that China sincerely hopes for the best for the peninsula, and encourages South Korea to resume contact and dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and restart cooperation for reconciliation.

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