US, South Korea to launch major navy drill next week

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SEOUL: The United States and South Korea will kick off a major navy drill next week, the US navy said yesterday, a fresh show of force against North Korea over its missile and nuclear tests.

Tensions over North Korea's weapons programme have soared in recent months with Pyongyang launching a flurry of missiles and conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in defiance of multiple sets of UN sanctions.

The United States has since ramped up military drills with South Korea and Japan, its two closest allies in the region.

In a statement, the US 7th Fleet said the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and two US destroyers would take part in the drill alongside South Korean navy vessels.

The exercise, slated for October 16 to 26 in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, would promote "communications, interoperability and partnership", the statement added.

The move will likely rile Pyongyang which had previous warned against any upcoming joint exercises.

"If US imperialists and the South Korean puppets ignite a nuclear war of aggression against us, it would only advance their own demise," the state-run KCNA news agency said.- AFP

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