US aircraft carrier to visit South Korea for first time since 2018


From right, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116) and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) sail in formation in the Philippine Sea, July 19, 2020. Picture taken July 19. 2020. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Hong/Handout via REUTERS

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SEOUL, Sept 19 (Reuters) – A U.S. aircraft carrier will visit South Korea this week for joint exercises for the first time in about four years, officials from the two countries said on Monday, as allies seek to deploy US nuclear-capable “strategic aircraft”. assets” to deter North Korea.

The USS Ronald Reagan will arrive at a naval base in the southern port city of Busan on Friday, the South Korean navy said in a statement.

“By conducting combined exercises, the navies of the two countries plan to enhance their military readiness and demonstrate the firm resolve of the South Korea-US alliance for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said. .

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North Korea has denounced previous US military deployments and joint drills as war rehearsals and evidence of hostile Washington and Seoul policies.

The visit will be the first to South Korea by a US aircraft carrier since 2018. That year, the allies reduced many of their joint military activities as part of diplomatic efforts to engage with North Korea. .

The COVID-19 pandemic further curtailed drills until this year, when South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol resumed numerous joint drills and other displays of military might as a warning to North Korea, which earlier this year carried out a record number of missile tests after talks. failed to persuade him to end his development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

Observers say Pyongyang also appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.

In April, the USS Ronald Reagan deployed to waters between South Korea and Japan for the first time since 2017 and conducted joint exercises with Japanese forces. This time, the carrier and its strike group will train with South Korean forces.

The United States and South Korea on Friday denounced North Korea’s first-use nuclear doctrine unveiled this month as “escalating and destabilizing” and Washington pledged to continue deploying and deploying them. to exercise strategic means to deter and respond to Pyongyang.

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Reporting by Josh Smith, editing by William Maclean

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