WASHINGTON, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The Pentagon on Monday announced aircraft carrier USS George Washington will visit South Korea this week, and participate in joint naval exercises in the coming months.
The 97,000-ton massive warship will make a port visit to Busan on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula from July 21-25, and will be accompanied by three destroyers from its strike group. They include USS McCampbell and USS John S. McCain, which will visit Busan, and USS Lassen, which will visit Chinhae.
The visit is considered to be a show of force, as George Washington commanding officer Capt. David Lausman said in a written statement the U.S. Navy's "robust forward presence in the Asia-Pacific region" is "a testament to the strength of our alliance and our constant readiness to defend the Republic of Korea."
On the same day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in South Korea for a visit which will see the first "2-plus-2 Talks" between the two nations involving Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their South Korean counterparts. They're expected to finalize details for a series of military exercises to be conducted over the next several months, officials said.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters traveling with Gates that the aircraft carrier's port visit's timing, in conjunction with the 2-plus-2 Talks, provides "a visual, tangible manifestation of our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea."
After the port visit, Morrell added, the George Washington will participate in the first of the U.S.-South Korean military exercises expected over the coming months. Based in Yokosuka, Japan, The George Washington is the U.S. Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
The Pentagon said the war games are designed to send a message to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). A senior Defense Department official speaking on background said last week that the United States is "trying to send a clear message of deterrence" to Pyongyang, "which we hope will have an effect of impressing upon them that they need to reconsider the sort of behavior they've been engaged in, including the Cheonan" incident.
Seoul announced in May that its navy warship Cheonan was torpedoed by a submarine of the DPRK, but Pyongyang immediately denied the involvement, saying the investigation results were fabricated.
- Dialogue 10/07/16 Drills or threat 2010-07-19
- DPRK denounces U.S.-South Korea joint naval drill 2010-07-17
- China concerns over US-S. Korea drill 2010-07-16
- China calls for restraint as U.S., ROK plan military drill 2010-07-16