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Militaries of S.Korea, Japan and US to Hold First Joint Aerial Drill

SEOUL, Oct 18 (Reuters) – South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold a joint aerial exercise near the Korean peninsula, which would be the first time the three countries are conducting such a drill, media reports said on Wednesday.

The three countries are likely to conduct the exercise on Sunday and are coordinating the locations, South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported, citing a government source.

Yonhap news agency also said the drill will likely be on Sunday and involve the U.S. B-52 strategic bomber as well as fighter jets of the three countries.

A South Korean defence ministry official declined to confirm or comment on the details of the aerial exercise.

But the three countries are “expanding” three-way joint military exercises on the basis of an agreement by their leaders in August at the Camp David summit to bolster cooperation against North Korea’s threats, the official said.

The reported exercise would be the latest in a series of moves by the three countries to strengthen ties at a time of growing tensions with North Korea and China’s influence in the region.

General Kim Seung-kyum, who chairs the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a parliamentary hearing last week that the three countries were planning to stage joint aerial drills, local media reported.

The U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bomber, which is currently deployed in South Korea, made a rare flyover at a South Korean defence exhibition on Tuesday.

In a further sign of growing trilateral security cooperation, South Korea, the United States and Japan have completed work on a three-way communications hotline, Yonhap news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a senior Seoul official.

Source : Reuters