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The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington will steam into Busan Port on Wednesday in time for the "two plus two" meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of South Korea and the U.S.
On board a military aircraft bound for Seoul with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell on Monday said the carrier will lie at anchor at Busan Port from Wednesday to Sunday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington will impose new sanctions on North Korea and has warned of serious consequences if it again attacks the South.
The United States and South Korea are to stage about 10 joint naval military exercises in coming months as a deterrent to North Korea, Seoul's Defense Ministry said.
The exercise starting Sunday involves about 20 ships including the 97,000-ton aircraft carrier USS George Washington and some 200 fixed-wing aircraft.
North Korea has denounced the July 25-28 drill as "very dangerous sabre-rattling" aimed at igniting a nuclear war.
SEOUL, South Korea, July 20, 2010 – The United States and South Korea today announced a series of military exercises designed to send a strong, clear message to North Korea to stop its provocative and warlike acts.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Republic of Korea National Defense Minister Kim Tae-young released a joint statement on the exercises following meetings here.
The first in a series is a combined maritime and air readiness exercise named Invincible Spirit. About 8,000 U.S. and ROK military personnel will participate. The exercise is in response to the unprovoked attack on and sinking of the South Korean frigate Cheonan off the west coast of the peninsula. Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in the North Korean torpedo attack on the vessel.
“This is the first in a series of ROK-U.S. combined naval exercises that will occur in both the East and West Seas,” the two defense ministers said in their joint statement. To Americans, the East Sea is the Yellow Sea and the West Sea is the Sea of Japan.
“These defensive, combined exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop, and that we are committed to together enhancing our combined defensive capabilities,” the statement continued.
Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, put the exercises in context for reporters traveling with Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Willard said the exercise will begin at the conclusion of the Two-plus-Two meetings between the U.S. and Korean ministers of defense and foreign affairs.
Willard called the attack on the Cheonan “heinous.”
The exercise does include the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and ROK Navy ships. Aircraft will come from the U.S. Seventh Air Force, the George Washington’s Air Wing, the ROK air force and ROK anti-submarine aircraft. The exercise will include F-22 Raptor aircraft training for the first time in the theater, he said.