US aircraft carrier to join new South Korean naval drill
The United States is to send its aircraft carrier USS George Washington to participate in the South Korean naval manoeuvres in the Yellow Sea, a report said Friday, quoting a Defense Department official, dpa reported.
"The USS George Washington will exercise in the Yellow Sea, in the West Sea," a Defense Department spokesman was quoted as saying by South Korean Yonhap News agency.
He did not provide a date for the exercise. South Korea Thursday launched a five-day anti-submarine naval drill in the Yellow Sea.
Last month, the US and South Korean navies including the USS George Washington conducted joint manoeuvres in the Sea of Japan, to the east of the peninsula.
July's drill was originally scheduled to take place in the Yellow Sea, but was moved after Beijing objected due to the proximity to the Chinese coast, Yonhap said.
As part of the current exercises in the Yellow Sea, the South Korean navy was planning underwater firing drills near Baengnyeong Island, close to the Northern Limit Line which represents the maritime section of the border with North Korea, Yonhap said.
The island is near the spot where the Cheonan corvette was sunk on March 26 with the loss of 46 lives. A South Korean-led investigation concluded that the explosion which sank the vessel was probably caused by a North Korean-made torpedo.
Pyongyang has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident, and repeatedly threatened "physical retaliation" to the naval drills by South Korea and the US.