Korea says S. Korea-US drills could lead to war

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave their hands after arriving in Manila the Philippines on Nov. 12 2017 for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum

In a first, three U.S. aircraft carriers carried out joint exercise off the east coast of South Korea on Sunday even as President Donald Trump reached Manila for the ASEAN summit.

The drill is the first in a decade in the region involving a three-carrier strike force.

Trump, who is on the final leg of his crucial Asia tour, made North Korea a top priority in his 12-day-long trip.

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Pyongyang also accused the USA and its allies, including Japan, of trying to "escalate the military tension and increase arms race in the region with each passing day". "But our military is keeping a full readiness posture against the possibility of North Korea's provocations", a South Korean official was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

North Korean government officials told CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the United States was increasingly taking action that could "ignite another Korean War". This is the first time that three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since exercises Valiant Shield 2006 and 2007 off the coast of Guam.

"Nobody knows when and how the "war maniac" Trump will ignite the 'wick of war, '" the officials said, referring to the presence of the carriers near the peninsula.

US Navy aircraft carriers operate off Korean Peninsula
Trump will attend a state banquet on Saturday before a welcoming and deal-signing ceremony on Sunday morning. It has repeatedly threatened to launch ballistic missiles into the waters around the USA territory of Guam.

The U.S.S. Nimitz, the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan all took part in the exercise, along with their accompanying vessels. The Reagan - homeported in Japan - joined the other two carriers, which are based in the Western United States.

He added, "This exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S".

"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three", said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift.

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"The exercise is aimed at enhancing deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and showing off preparedness to fend off any provocative acts by the North", a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said.

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