US, S Korea to hold naval war games next week

The drill will involve at least nine ships plus surveillance aircraft.

Seoul: The US and South Korean navies will next week stage an anti-submarine exercise designed to deter North Korea following its alleged torpedo attack on one of Seoul`s warships, officials said on Friday.

The drill, the second joint exercise in two months, will involve at least nine ships plus surveillance aircraft, the US military said in a statement.

It is "designed to send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea" while improving capabilities in anti-submarine warfare, the statement said.

South Korea, the United States and other nations say a North Korean torpedo caused the sinking of one of Seoul`s warships in March with the loss of 46 lives.

Seoul announced plans for a series of naval drills, either alone or with its ally Washington, to deter Pyongyang.

The North denies involvement in the sinking and criticises the exercises as a rehearsal for war.

"A serious situation, in which an all-out war may break out by any accident, is now prevailing in the Korean peninsula," said ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun this week.

"However, the US war maniacs are ceaselessly beefing up armed forces and staging war games in this acute hotspot, which may drive the situation to an unpredictable grave phase."

The drill will be held from next Monday to Friday in the Yellow Sea between China and Korea. It was postponed early this month due to an approaching typhoon.

It will not involve a US aircraft carrier, unlike the first joint naval exercise held in late July. That drill was relocated from the Yellow Sea to the east coast of the peninsula in response to China`s expressions of concern.

The statement said US forces would send two US guided missile destroyers, a surveillance ship, a fast attack submarine and P-3C Orion aircraft to next week`s drill.

South Korea would send two destroyers, a fast frigate, a patrol craft, P-3C aircraft and a submarine.

Bureau Report

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