'Korea, US, Japan naval exercise to enhance defensive capabilities'
WASHINGTON(Yonhap) -- The commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said Friday that the planned joint naval exercise between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan is "no surprise" and aims to enhance defensive capabilities of the key allies.
In a press conference held at the Pentagon, Adm. Samuel Locklear pointed out that South Korea and Japan are important partners for the United States in the Pacific region.
He said the exercise will help improve joint operational skills and make it possible to find shortcomings in the mutual defense system so they can be corrected.
Locklear expected to learn a lot from the three country exercise set to run from Thursday to Friday in waters south of Jeju Island. In addition, South Korea and U.S. naval forces will engage in maneuvers in the Yellow Sea for three days starting on Saturday that will involve deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington.
The joint naval operations will involve mock search and rescue operations and maritime interdiction drills. Surface combatants, logistics ships and various air assets are to be used in the maneuvers.
The four-star flag officer also stressed that the naval maneuver is a non-attack exercise that poses no threats to others in the region.
He pointed out that Washington is expanding cooperation with its allies in the Asia-Pacific region and that this move is not restricted to the East China Sea and South China Sea.
The remarks by the naval officer come after China's foreign ministry expressed reservations about the exercise on Thursday. It claimed such a move does not contribute to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.