Korea says S. Korea-US drills could lead to war

USS KITTY HAWK at sea- USS Nimitz, USS Kitty Hawk, and USS John C. Stennis carrier strike groups steam in formation during a joint

"This exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the US Pacific Fleet's unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region", Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

The United States operates 11 carriers and nine similar, but smaller amphibious assault ships; no other country operates more than two.

The presence of three USA aircraft carriers off the Korean Peninsula is pushing the region closer to nuclear war, according to a North Korean letter to the United Nations secretary-general.

The U.S.S. Nimitz, the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan all took part in the exercise, along with their accompanying vessels.

Joining the three USA carriers and their strike groups were three Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships including the helicopter destroyer JS Ise, a guided-missile destroyer and general goal destroyer.

The exercise is the first time three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since exercises Valiant Shield 2006 and 2007 off the coast of Guam, according to Navy officials.

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Officials point out Navy aircraft carriers more recently have conducted dual-carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific including in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea.

According to a Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) press statement, the two navies conducted various tactical exercises this Sunday aimed at improving the tactical skills of the JMSDF and enhancing collaboration with the U.S. Navy.

While operating in the Sea of Japan on November 12, the U.S. Navy carriers were joined by a fleet of Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) warships that included the JS Ise, a 1 3,950-ton Hyƫga-class helicopter destroyer, the JS Makinami, a Takanami-class guided-missile antisubmarine warfare destroyer, and the lead ship of the Murasame-class of general objective destroyers, JS Murasame.

Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun will meet South Korean and global officials, according to the US State Department, although there is no indication his visit will include talks with the North, Reuters reported.

"North Korean news outlets described the carriers" presence as a provocation, and officials in Pyongyang told CNN that they are concerned that Trump intends to start a conflict.

Pyongyang's drills are expected to begin in December and are likely to proceed till April, while the South Korean military keeps a close watch on all the developments in the region.

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