SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) — Top South Korean and U.S. military officers on Thursday boarded a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing in the East Sea, sources said, in a rare move to highlight the allies’ unity amid concerns about possible North Korean provocations.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Won In-choul and Gen. Paul LaCamera, the head of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, met aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier that arrived in the waters earlier this week in a show of America’s military might.
Their symbolic meeting came amid speculation that the North could engage in provocative acts, like another intercontinental ballistic missile launch or a nuclear test, in time for its key political events, including the 110th birthday of its late national founder Kim Il-sung on Friday.
On Wednesday, the U.S. 7th Fleet showed photos depicting the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier, F-35Cs, an F/A-18E Super Hornet and E-2D Hawk Eye early warning aircraft engaging in the drills with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
It marks the first such carrier maneuvers of the U.S. Navy in the East Sea since late 2017, when tensions soared due to a string of Pyongyang’s major provocations, including its sixth nuclear experiment.
In November 2017, the U.S. sent three flattops — USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt — to the East Sea operational area, called the Korea Theater of Operations (KTO), in an unprecedented display of force against North Korea.
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