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SKorea, US concludes joint military exercises


File photos of USS George Washington, F-22 Raptor (inset)

SEOUL (BNS): South Korea and the US Wednesday concluded their joint large scale military exercise off the South's east cost, a Yonhap report said.

The news agency quoted Seoul officials as saying that the allies accomplished their mission of sending a clear message of deterrence to North Korea.

About 20 ships and submarines, including the 97,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 200 aircraft and 8,000 military personnel participated in the exercise called 'Invincible Spirit.'

The exercises come just four months after a South Korean warship Cheonan was sunk, allegedly by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine. However, the North strongly denied attacking the ship and threatened to retaliate over the four-day manoeuvre.

"Throughout the Invincible Spirit exercises, we sent a strong warning to North Korea that its aggressive behavior won't be forgiven," Rear Adm. Kim Kyung-sik of the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) was quoted as saying.

North Korea has threatened military countermeasures to the exercises in hyperbolic rhetoric, but there has been no sign of unusual military activity by the North, the report quoting military officials said.

Anti-submarine warfare operations have been a key part of the joint drills. The exercises featured a wide range of air, sea and underwater drills in waters 200 kilometers or so south of the maritime boundary with North Korea.

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