United States, South Korea stage air drills despite North Korean complaints

SEOUL – 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.

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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.

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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.

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