U.S. flies bombers over Korea as Trump discusses options
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force late on Tuesday, as President Donald Trump met top defense officials to discuss how to respond to any threat from North Korea.
Tensions have soared between the United States and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it fast advances toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
The two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers were joined by two F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base in Guam, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Wednesday.
After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and China to repeat the drill, the release said.
The U.S. military said in a separate statement it conducted drills with Japanese fighters after the exercise with South Korea, making it the first time U.S. bombers have conducted training with fighters from both Japan and South Korea at night.
The U.S. bombers had taken off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In August, Pyongyang threatened to fire intermediate-range missiles toward the vicinity of Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory that is frequently subjected to sabre-rattling from the North.
South Korean and U.S. government officials have been raising their guard against more North Korean provocations with the approach of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s ruling party, which fell on Tuesday.
Trump hosted a discussion on Tuesday on options to respond to any North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.
U.S. carrier drills with Japanese navy around Okinawa, southwest of Korean peninsula
TOKYO (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan, is conducting drills with a Japanese warship in waters around Okinawa southwest of the Korean peninsula, Japan’s military said on Wednesday.
The exercise comes amid heightened tension with North Korea as the U.S. holds air drills in the region with B1-B bombers flown from Guam.
The exercise with the Reagan strike group, which began on Saturday, involves vessels sailing from the Bashi Channel, which separates the Philippines and Taiwan, to seas around Japan’s southwest island nearer to North Korea, Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force said in a statement.
One Japanese destroyer, the Shimkaze, is accompanying the 100,000-ton Reagan, which is based in Japan, and its escort ships, the JMSDF said.
Russian Security Council commission discusses security threats on Korean Peninsula
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LONDON (Reuters) – Spanish stocks and bonds rallied and the euro hit a two-week high on Wednesday as European markets took relief from Catalonia stopping short of declaring immediate independence from Madrid.
Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont had balked on Tuesday at making a formal declaration of independence, saying the plan would be put on hold and that he instead wanted talks with Spain’s government over the region’s future.
The move disappointed many pro-independence supporters but pleased financial markets with hopes the gesture would mark a de-escalation of Spain’s worst political crisis since an attempted military coup in 1981