U.S.: Naval exercises target N. Korea

July 16, 2010 at 2:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say joint naval exercises with South Korea are aimed at North Korea, not China.

The exercises were postponed because of the discussion in the U.N. Security Council on the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel. Details are expected to be announced next week when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates visit Seoul for meetings with their South Korean counterparts, Yonhap News Agency reported

A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said Thursday the exercises are "about sending a message" to North Korea.

"It should not cause alarm from the Chinese or anyone else," he said.

The U.N. resolution condemned the sinking of the Cheonan and urged North Korea to return to the six-party talks. Because of opposition from China, it did not explicitly blame North Korea for torpedoing the Cheonan.

But U.S. officials said the naval exercises are a response to the sinking.

"This will be exercises that enhance anti-submarine warfare fighting capabilities," Morrell said. "This is also a show of force to the North Koreans and sends a very strong message of deterrence so that we do not see a repeat of the aggression that led to the sinking of the Cheonan and killed nearly 50 South Korean sailors."

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