Tuesday, July 20, 2010

U.S. Warship Deployed to South Korea

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
13:21 Mecca time, 10:21 GMT

US carrier deployed to South Korea

The nuclear-powered USS George Washington is one of the biggest
warships in the world

The US military has announced it is sending one of its biggest
aircraft carriers to South Korea to take part in military exercises
that officials say will send "a strong signal" of deterrence to North

The deployment of the USS George Washington is being seen as a show of force in the wake of the sinking last March of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors.

Speaking to US troops based at Camp Casey in South Korea on Tuesday, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary said that the joint drill later this month would involve 10 US ships, eight South Korean vessels and a large number of aircraft.

Gates also announced that he and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of
state, would visit the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on Wednesday.

North Korea denounced the drill as "very dangerous sabre-rattling".

It is "aimed at further straining the already deadlocked inter-Korean
relations and igniting a nuclear war against the DPRK [North Korea],
while watching for a chance," Minju Joson, North Korea's cabinet
newspaper, said in a commentary.

Pyongyang blamed

South Korea and an international team of investigators have blamed
North Korea for sending a submarine to torpedo the Cheonan frigate
near their disputed Yellow Sea border.

The sinking was considered South Korea's worst military disaster since
the Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire in 1953.

No formal peace treaty was ever signed, and more than 28,000 US troops remain stationed in the South with a pledge to protect its ally.

The North continues to deny involvement in the sinking and says that
it was vindicated by a United Nations Security Council statement on
July 9 which condemned the attack without specifying the culprit.

Analysts have said the deployment of the George Washington, one of the world's largest warships, could be seen by North Korea as an
aggressive move by the US due to the ship's sheer size and potential

'Steadfast commitment'

According to a Navy website, the giant nuclear-powered ship can
accommodate some 6,250 crew members and carries dozens of aircraft.

Despite China, North Korea's main ally, expressing opposition to the
war games, South Korea has said the exercises will go ahead although
defence officials have said the drill will be partially relocated from
the sensitive Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan.

Gates said the South Korean and US militaries would practise
anti-submarine drills as well as aircraft operations.

He said Wednesday's visit to the DMZ was designed "to highlight how
important operations are there to the security of the peninsula as
well as to the region, and demonstrate our steadfast commitment to the
Republic of Korea [South Korea]".

More details of the drill, the first in a series, were expected to be
announced later on Tuesday after Gates meets South Korean defence
minister Kim Tae-young.

Source: Agencies

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