US, South Korea Plan Military Exercises

Washington, July 15 (DPA) The US and South Korean militaries plan to conduct exercises in the "near future" to send a clear signal to North Korea following the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The plan is expected to be finalised when US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates meet with their South Korean counterparts in Seoul July 21.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the exercises will take place in international waters in the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan but would not provide details about the timing.

"We are not yet ready to announce the precise details of those exercises, but they will involve a wide range of assets and are expected to be initiated in the near future," Morrell said.

The decision to hold the exercises comes after the March sinking of the South Korean warship Chenoan that left 46 sailors dead. Pyongyang has rejected accusations that it was behind the attack, but an international inquiry determined the torpedo originated from North Korea.

The United States has sought to end a clear message to North Korea that it stands by its alliance with the South, and accuses the Stalinist state of breaking the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.

"All of these exercises are defensive in nature, but will send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea and demonstrate our steadfast commitment to the defence of South Korea," Morrell said.

The UN Security Council issued a statement last week condemning the sinking of the Chenoan.


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