US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea for joint military drills

This month's drills, called "Freedom Edge", will involve the three countries' navies

REUTERS June 22, 2024
The Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is anchored in Busan, South Korea, June 22, 2024.PHOTO:REUTERS

A nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan on Saturday to take part in joint military exercises later this month with the host nation and Japan, naval officials said.

The leaders of the three countries agreed at a summit last August to hold annual military training drills as they sought to project unity in the face of China's growing power and nuclear threats from North Korea.

This month's drills, called "Freedom Edge", will involve the three countries' navies and include maritime, anti-submarine warfare exercises and air defence exercises, said US Rear Admiral Christopher Alexander, commander of the Carrier Strike Group Nine.

Read:South Korea to suspend military pact with North over trash balloons

"The intent is to improve the interoperability between our navies and ensure that we are ready to respond to any crisis or contingency," he told a press conference, saying the Theodore Roosevelt would serve as the command ship for the drills.

Last year, the three counties also staged joint naval missile defence and anti-submarine exercises to improve responses to North Korean threats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited North Korea this week for the first time in 24 years and signed a deal with leader Kim Jong Un that included a mutual defence pledge.

It was one of Russia's most significant moves in Asia for years, which Kim described as amounting to an alliance.

The visit comes seven months after a South Korea trip by another US aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, in a show of extended deterrence against the North's nuclear and missile programmes.


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