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Korea, U.S. to start joint naval drill in West Sea on Sunday

South Korea and the United States will launch a joint naval drill in the Yellow Sea from Sunday with a nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier participating amid heightened tensions over North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island, officials said Wednesday.

"The USS George Washington carrier strike group will join Republic of Korea naval forces in the waters west of the Korean Peninsula from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to conduct the next exercise," the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said in a statement.
USS George Washington carrier (Yonhap News)
USS George Washington carrier (Yonhap News)

While the four-day exercise has been previously planned well before the North's "unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence," the USFK said in the statement. ROK is an acronym of South Korea's official name, Republic of Korea.

South Korea's defense ministry issued a similar statement, saying the exercise is defensive in nature and aimed at increasing deterrence against North Korea.

An official at the USFK said China has been informed of the planned South Korea-U.S. exercise. China has voiced strong concerns about any military drill involving the U.S. aircraft carrier. 

The U.S. forces also plan to mobilize battleships including the USS Cowpens, USS Shiloh, USS Stethem and USS Fitzgerald, according to the statement.
(Yonhap News)