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US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea

SEOUL (AP) – A nuclear-powered United States (US) aircraft carrier arrived yesterday in South Korea for a three-way exercise stepping up their military training to cope with North Korean threats.

Following a meeting between their defence chiefs in Singapore earlier in June, the US, South Korea and Japan announced Freedom Edge.

The new multidomain exercise is aimed at sharpening the countries’ combined response in various areas of operation, including air, sea and cyberspace. The Theodore Roosevelt strike group will participate in the exercise that is expected to start within June. South Korea’s military didn’t immediately confirm specific details of the training.

South Korea’s navy said in a statement that the arrival of Theodore Roosevelt demonstrates the strong defence posture of the allies and “stern willingness to respond to advancing North Korean threats”.

The carrier’s visit comes seven months after another US aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, came to South Korea in a show of strength against the North. In the face of growing North Korean threats, the United States, South Korea and Japan have expanded their combined training and boosted the visibility of strategic US military assets in the region, seeking to intimidate the North.

The US and South Korea have also been updating their nuclear deterrence strategies, with Seoul seeking stronger assurances that Washington would swiftly and decisively use its nuclear capabilities to defend its ally from a North Korean nuclear attack.

Crew and media members gather in the hangar of the aircraft carrier, anchored in Busan Naval Base in Busan, South Korea. PHOTO: AP