The deployment of three U.S. aircraft carriers, which entered waters off the Korean Peninsula in a joint maritime exercise with the South Korea, was just a "normal operation" with "no big message" intended, said U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis here on Monday. This is the first time the three supercarriers are sailing together in the same region in almost 10 years, making it clear that the Trump administration is determined to flex its muscles against the Kim Jong-un regime. "Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet's unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region".
Meanwhile, the top US negotiator with North Korea arrived in South Korea yesterday, a visit that comes as hopes rise for an easing of tensions on the peninsula in the wake of US President Donald Trump's visit and a lull in missile testing. "But our military is keeping a full readiness posture against the possibility of North Korea's provocations", a South Korean official was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.
Joining the three United States carriers and their strike groups were three Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships including the helicopter destroyer JS Ise, a guided-missile destroyer and general objective destroyer.
However, Pyongyangs state news agency accused the US and South Korea of attempting to escalate tensions in the region.
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Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that "this is what we normally do with allies". The MSDF said it is "using every opportunity" to strengthen ties between the two navies, the Japan Times reports.
Seven South Korean navy vessels will take part in the exercises, including two Aegis ships. USA attack submarines typically accompany U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups, but the Navy usually keeps their specific locations secret.
It marks the first time that three USA aircraft carriers conduct joint exercises with South Korea's Navy.