US, South Korea joint military drills begin in Western Pacific

Donald Trump said he saw some progress in regards to North Korea but declined to comment on holding direct talks with Pyongyang

The two nations began the four day naval exercise on Saturday as a reminder to North Korea they are committed 'to the security and stability of the region'.

Instead, the USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) will be "deployed rotationally and sequentially" to carry out joint exercises with warships from the ROKN.

The upcoming practice is aimed at bolstering the South Korea-U.S. alliance's policy of "extended deterrence" against the North's nuclear and missile provocations, it added.

A total of seven South Korean navy vessels, including Aegis-equipped warships, will participate in the drill, the statement said, to accompany 14 US naval warships.

Seoul and Beijing also agreed to swiftly restore bilateral exchanges in all fields based on their recent agreement to normalize relations following a period of conflict over South Korea's deployment of the THAAD missile defense system.

The defense ministry, however, has ruled out the possibility of trilateral military drills with Japan.

South Korea and the United States on Saturday kicked off a joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan involving three USA aircraft carriers amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The drills are reportedly the first of their kind since the three carrier strike groups conducted the Valiant Shield exercise off the coast of Guam in 2006 and 2007. U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift described the training as a "rare opportunity".

This came amid the U.S. President Donald Trump's Asia visit, which was largely focused on about the North Korean nuclear threat.

The leaders of South Korea and China on Saturday reaffirmed their joint efforts to peacefully resolve North Korea's nuclear problem in a summit highlighting the recent normalization of bilateral ties estranged by the deployment of a USA missile defense system in South Korea.

Trump on Tuesday reiterated his goal to achieve what he called "peace through strength", warning the USA could use "the full range of our unmatched military capabilities" against Pyongyang.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Da Nang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017.

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