Mon, Oct 25, 2010 - Page 1 News List

South Korea and US shelve plan to stage drill: report

AFP, SEOUL

South Korea and the US have shelved a plan to stage a major joint exercise later this month in the Yellow Sea, reflecting concerns about China’s objections, a report said yesterday.

A US aircraft carrier was to participate in the exercise, which has been cancelled over fears that it could heighten tensions around the Korean Peninsula ahead of the G20 summit in Seoul, Yonhap news agency said.

“There will be no exercise involving a US aircraft carrier this year,” an unnamed senior South Korean official was quoted as saying.

The South’s defense ministry refused to comment.

Seoul will host world leaders including US President Barack Obama for the summit from Nov. 11 to Nov. 12, in what is considered South Korea’s biggest appearance on the global stage since the 1988 Summer Olympics in the capital.

South Korea has staged a flurry of military drills — either alone or with the US — as a show of force against North Korea following the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

The South accused the North of torpedoing the corvette with the loss of 46 lives. The North denied involvement.

On Sept. 1, China launched live-fire naval exercises after voicing opposition to the joint drills.

Any military exercises involving the US in the Yellow Sea are a sensitive issue because of the area’s proximity to China and the disputed maritime boundary between North and South Korea.

China has bristled at the idea of a US aircraft carrier group patrolling waters near its coast.

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