June 29, 2021 09:49
Korea will take part for the first time in a large-scale joint naval exercise between the U.S. and Australia designed to keep China's expansionist ambitions in check.
The U.S. and Australia began the biennial Exercise Talisman Sabre off the coast of Queensland last Friday. Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. are also taking part in the drills that test naval troop transport capabilities and combat readiness. The drills were first held in 2005 and Japan started taking part in 2019.
Defense Ministry spokesman Boo Seung-chan said the Navy will dispatch a 4,400-ton destroyer, a helicopter and 240 soldiers in the middle of July.
But Boo claimed the exercise is not "aimed at a particular country, but to bolster combined operational capabilities." He declined to comment on whether the U.S. or Australia asked Korea to take part.
Sources in the government and military believe Korea's participation is part of agreements made by Presidents Moon Jae-in and Joe Biden last month to bolster the bilateral alliance and to keep China in check. A government source said, "Participating in the joint exercise will serve as a chance to further strengthen alliance with the U.S."
The exercise ends on Aug. 7.
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