South Korea and the US have kicked off joint naval drills off the southern port of Mokpo, amid increasing tensions with North Korea.
Led by the US Navy’s USS George Washington aircraft carrier, the joint exercise is aimed at bolstering the US and South Korean forces’ combined ability to counter maritime special operations force insertions.
The five-day naval drill involves six US vessels together with several South Korean Navy vessels, in addition to US and South Korean Air Force combat aircraft, both in the seas off the east and west coasts of South Korea.
After the latest exercise, both of the navies will participate in a two-day trilateral search-and-rescue naval drill involving the Japanese maritime self-defence forces, which is scheduled to begin on 21 July.
Both the US and South Korea conduct a range of army and navy exercises every year, which North Korea condemns as invasion practice.
Last month, North Korea reportedly fired shells into the disputed western maritime border in the vicinity of a South Korean high-speed patrol vessel in the Yellow Sea.
The recent North Korean missile tests have concurred with several peace proposals to Seoul, including a scheme to stop all provocative military activity.