S. Korea and USA begin naval drills amid North Korean threat

The US and South Korea launched a major naval exercise

Senior diplomats from South Korea, the United States and Japan will have back-to-back meetings in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss their coordinated approach toward the growing threats from North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

The last vice ministerial meeting between the two countries was held in June 2014.

Choe Kang-il, deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, attended a security conference in Switzerland for three days from September eleventh, a week after the North's sixth nuclear test.

The South Korean and US militaries regularly conduct joint exercises, often enraging North Korea, which views such training as an invasion rehearsal.

Since 2003, North Korea is no longer a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

In August, North Korea issued a similar threat, saying its military had presented Kim Jong Un with plans to launch intermediate-range missiles to create "enveloping fire" near Guam, a key US military hub in the Pacific.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam will meet with his USA and Japanese counterparts, John Sullivan and Shinsuke Sugiyama, respectively, later in the day.

President Donald Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, and east Asian nations next month to underscore his commitment to longstanding American alliances and partnerships, the White House said today.

The drills involve fighter jets, helicopters and 40 naval ships and submarines from the allies, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, according to South Korea's navy.

On the second day, the USA leader will give a speech to South Korean lawmakers. He said the North has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defense because it's under the direct nuclear threat of the United States.

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