US plans naval exercises with South Korea: Pentagon
Washington: The US military on Monday said it will carry out anti-submarine and other naval exercises with South Korea in the "near future" after a North Korean sub sank a South Korean warship.
The announcement came after an international investigation last week concluded that a North Korean submarine fired a heavy torpedo at the Cheonan on March 26, sinking the South Korean vessel and killing 46 sailors.
The decision to conduct anti-submarine as well as maritime interdiction exercises with Seoul`s military "are a result of the findings of this recent incident," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
He declined to say where the "important" exercises would be held or other details, but said they would take place "in the near future."
The White House said earlier that President Barack Obama had directed his administration to review North Korea policy and commanded his armed forces to work closely with South Korea "to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was expected to discuss tensions on the Korean peninsula in talks on Tuesday with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa.
The United States and numerous other nations have condemned the attack, seen in Seoul as one of the worst provocations since the 1950-53 Korean War. The North`s ally China, which wields a Security Council veto, has called on all sides to show restraint.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that US forces in South Korea were at a "normal" state of readiness and were operating "routinely."
Whitman said the maritime interdiction exercises would be conducted under the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, designed to stop trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.
He also said the Obama administration remained committed to a deadline for handing over wartime command of South Korean forces to Seoul in April 2012, despite the sinking of the warship.
"There have been no decisions to change the timeline" for transferring operational control in the event of a war, he said.
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