U.S. says ‘stay tuned’ for Yellow Sea drills

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U.S. says ‘stay tuned’ for Yellow Sea drills

The U.S. government confirmed yesterday that a joint exercise between the U.S. and South Korea will take place in the Yellow Sea with the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington, although exact dates have yet to be confirmed.

“We didn’t cancel any exercise,” said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon spokesman, during a regular briefing yesterday. “This notion of canceled, I think, is just hyperbolic. We’ve been trying to work out the next appropriate date for us to jointly exercise in the Yellow Sea with the U.S.S. George Washington.

“We are still working on that date, but rest assured, we will do so with that aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea,” Morrell said.

The joint exercise, which had been scheduled for early October, drew strong objections from China and North Korea, but U.S. authorities said last month that the delay was not because of them but due to scheduling problems.

“It is difficult to get all those parts together and assembled and full agreement on when to proceed with this,” Morrell said. “But we will do so. We will be back in the Yellow Sea. We will be there with the George Washington, so stay tuned.”

The spokesman’s comments came after a second antisubmarine drill in the Yellow Sea was indefinitely postponed by the South Korean government last month due to security issues regarding the upcoming G-20 Summit. The U.S.S. George Washington was not deployed during the first joint exercise.

The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday that it was “aware of [Morrell’s] statement through the media” and that it would continue to examine and discuss the time and place for the training with the U.S.

Walter Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command, also said during a visit to Washington last month that a new round of exercises involving an aircraft carrier would be held soon.

The Defense Ministry said last month that issues with organizing the exercise, as well as the risk of a provocation from North Korea ahead of South Korea’s biggest diplomatic event, had caused the ministry to call off the training.

The antisubmarine training is a response to the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, which left 46 sailors dead.

Seoul’s G-20 Summit takes place starting Nov. 11.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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