Three-carrier exercises "normal operation": Pentagon chief

"The United States Navy is the only force in the world able to carry out such an exercise", a Navy official said Monday.

The drill is the first in a decade in the region involving a three-carrier strike force.

Meanwhile, the top US negotiator with North Korea arrived in South Korea yesterday, a visit that comes as hopes rise for an easing of tensions on the peninsula in the wake of US President Donald Trump's visit and a lull in missile testing.

But Pyongyang has seen any USA military exercises as a threat. "The U.S. efforts to expand its military influence in Asia-Pacific and the movement of big neighboring powers to contain it escalate the military tension and increase arms race in the region with each passing day", it said.

KCNA also cited other recent US military moves, such as the first deployment of stealthy US Air Force F-35 fighters to Okinawa, as signs Washington is ramping up for war against North Korea.

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Mr Ja said the United States had reactivated round-the-clock sorties by B-52 strategic bombers and was making frequent flights of B-1B and B-2 bombers in the air space of South Korea, AFP reported. "Nobody knows when and how the "war maniac" Trump will ignite the "wick of war, '" officials told CNN's Will Ripley".

"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three", said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift.

Although Japan had agreed to a USA plan to stage a tripartite exercise with South Korea, it did not materialize because of the schedule of South Korean forces, according to sources in the Japanese government.

"The exercise is aimed at enhancing deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and showing off preparedness to fend off any provocative acts by the North", a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said. USA attack submarines typically accompany U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups, but the Navy usually keeps their specific locations secret.

This is the first time all three U.S. aircraft carriers are taking part at the same time in a military exercise in over a decade.

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