May 09, 2017 11:57
A U.S. Navy strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson has been engaged in joint exercises with the South Korean Navy in the East Sea since it arrived on April 29, a military spokesman here said Monday.
"There's been no discussion yet when to end the drill," the spokesman said. "It will probably likely continue all this week."
The "armada" came to global prominence last month when U.S. President Donald Trump at one point seemed not know where it was, claiming it was headed for South Korea when it was in fact on its way to Australia.
"The ongoing joint exercise isn't a mere naval drill but a show of force to prevent North Korea making any miscalculation like a provocation around South Korea's presidential election on Tuesday," a government official here said.
Diplomatic circles believe the aim is to pressure China to work harder for the denuclearization of North Korea if it wants the heavy U.S. naval presence out of its front yard.
The Vinson armada will later hand patrols over to a strike group headed by the USS Ronald Reagan, another nuclear-powered aircraft carrier currently taking part in drills near Yokosuka, Japan after months of maintenance.
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