At least 10 warships to join US-S Korea exercise

The upcoming US-South Korean naval exercise is aimed at deterring the North.

Seoul: About 10 warships or submarines will join an upcoming US-South Korean naval exercise aimed at deterring North Korea following its alleged attack on a Seoul corvette, officials said on Friday.

The anti-submarine drill, denounced by the North as a preparation for war, is the latest show of force since Seoul and Washington accused Pyongyang in May of sending a submarine to torpedo the warship, killing 46 crew.

The five-day drill starting on Sunday in the Yellow Sea is the second in a series of joint naval exercises "designed to send a clear message of deterrence" to the North while improving anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the US Forces Korea said in a statement.

South Korea has also held its own naval drills since May, while the two allies went ahead last month with a regularly scheduled land-based exercise.

The US will send two guided-missile destroyers, an ocean surveillance ship, a fast-attack submarine and P-3C Orion surveillance planes, the statement said.

South Korea will mobilise four destroyers, at least one frigate, P-3C planes and a submarine, Seoul`s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that a total of 1,700 personnel from the two countries will take part.

North Korea vehemently denies involvement in the sinking of the South`s ship in March. It has warned of possible retaliation for the naval drills.

The "US imperialists and the South Korean puppet warmongers are contemplating staging the war manoeuvres to spark off another war of aggression in the Korean peninsula at any cost under the pretext of the fabricated case of the sunken warship", its official media said this week.

Next week`s exercise does not include a US aircraft carrier and is relatively small in scale, in a possible concession to the North`s ally China.

Any military drills involving the United States in the Yellow Sea are sensitive because of the area`s proximity to China, which also says such joint exercises fuel regional tensions.

China on Wednesday launched its own live-fire naval exercises in the sea, which will last until Saturday.

Bureau Report

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