South Korea and the United States have agreed to stage a series of joint naval and air drills starting next week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said Tuesday.
The first joint exercise involving the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington will come July 25 in waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, and the two allies plan to stage more drills down the road in both the Yellow Sea and the East Sea.
The announcement came after South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and his U.S. counterpart Robert Gates met for a 30- minute talk on Tuesday afternoon, where the two defense chiefs finalized schedules for the exercises.
The planned exercises are partly a show of military capabilities and a response to the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March, blamed on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s alleged torpedo attack.
On Wednesday, Seoul and Washington are scheduled to hold unprecedented high-level security talks involving top diplomats and defense chiefs of the two countries, where they are expected to deliver a strong message against the DPRK to deter further aggression.
The two countries will also join on October 13 anti- proliferation drills in waters off the South Korean port city of Busan to guard against proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, Australia and Singapore, will take part in the drills.