US, S. Korea begin joint Naval drills

Trump with children in China

The US administration thinks China's economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

"The future of this region and its lovely people must not be held hostage to a dictator's twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail", he said during a speech in Vietnam to the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. In a statement carried by the regime's state news agency, North Korea's foreign ministry said Trump (quote) "laid bare his true nature as destroyer of world peace and stability and begged for a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula".

The outburst came as Trump nears the tail end of his sweep through Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines that has seen him rail against the North's nuclear ambitions and deliver his "America First" vision of global trade.

But in its retort Saturday, the North said Trump's warnings "can never frighten us or put a stop to our advance", but rather "pushes us to speed up the efforts to accomplish the great cause of completing the state nuclear force".

The battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Nimitz will successively enter the exercise area during the drills that run until Tuesday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

It marks the first time that the country's Navy has conducted a combined training with three US aircraft carriers.

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Three U.S. aircraft carriers steam in formation in the East Sea, leading South Korean and U.S. warships during the allies' joint naval exercise on November 12, 2017, in this photo provided by South Korea's Navy.

The exercise comes after the two countries agreed in talks between their respective defense ministers last month to expand the rotational deployment of USA strategic military assets to the Korean Peninsula to better cope with North Korean provocations.

The exercises come after the US and South Korea in their recent annual meeting on defensive policy agreed to expand the rotational deployment of strategic American military assets such as aircraft carriers, submarines and bombers to the peninsula.

The North's actions have also prompted worldwide condemnation - a reaction to the dozens of ballistic missile tests in recent years, including its effort to develop an intercontinental device capable of reaching the United States mainland.

He said Friday the Asia-Pacific region was being held hostage by the "twisted fantasies" of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, as he called on countries to stand united against Pyongyang. It also flew two new midrange missiles over Japan and threatened to launch them toward Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory and military hub.

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