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US, S Korea wrap up war games amid N Korea crisis
Posted On: Dec 01, 2010
A file photo of South Korean naval ships taking part in the US-South Korea joint naval and air exercise.
The US and South Korean navies today ended a major exercise intended to warn North Korea and announced more drills, but world powers remained divided over how to deal with the nuclear-armed regime.
The allies' biggest-ever joint manoeuvre, which saw jet fighters thunder through the sky above a US carrier battle group, began days after Pyongyang stunned the world with a deadly artillery strike on a South Korean island.
The shelling of Yeonpyeong island, which killed two marines and two civilians, infuriated South Koreans and sharply raised public support for a far tougher military response if the North should strike again.
"These exercises are meaningful as they demonstrate a firm commitment of the South Korea-US alliance that the allies will sternly respond to any North Korean provocation," said a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff senior official.
"We have been in consultations with the US to carry out several rounds of joint military drills to deal with limited provocations by the enemy," said Colonel Kim Young-cheol, adding that no dates had been set, Yonhap reported.
China -- strongly opposed to the display of allied firepower in the Yellow Sea, which it views as its backyard -- called for all parties involved in the Korean peninsula crisis to avoid actions that "inflame the situation".
"The parties concerned should keep calm and exercise restraint and work to bring the situation back onto the track of dialogue and negotiation," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as saying.
The North had warned that the four-day exercises brought the Koreas closer to "the brink of war" but no incidents were reported.
With the Korean peninsula plunged into its worst crisis in years, diplomats at the United Nations and elsewhere struggled to find common ground on whether to punish Pyongyang or seek to engage it in new talks.
China has blocked attempts for a UN Security Council condemnation of North Korea's attack and new nuclear activities, several diplomats said.
Beijing has instead proposed that the six parties to long-stalled North Korean denuclearisation talks -- the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan -- hold an emergency meeting on the crisis.
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