United States, South Korea stage air drills despite North Korean complaints
SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea staged drills for the second time in a week on Friday with some of their latest warplanes, despite North Korean complaints that the exercises were increasing tensions on the peninsula.
The two countries conducted a joint air exercise over the sea to the west of the Korean Peninsula on Friday, with warplanes such as South Korea’s F35A, and United States’ F-22 and F-35B participating, the South Korean military said in a statement.
The Air Forces of both countries “will continue to strengthen joint drills to have strong response capabilities and readiness against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” it said in a statement.
Last year, North Korea conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests, which are banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions. It was also observed reopening its shuttered nuclear weapons test site, raising expectations of a nuclear test for the first time since 2017.
On Thursday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said earlier drills by the United States and its allies had reached an “extreme red line” and threatened to turn the peninsula into a “huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone.”
Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursued hostile policies, said the statement carried by North Korea’s state news agency.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Christina Fincher)