S Korea, US extends joint air drills amid N Korea provocation

Seoul: Amid firing of ballistic missiles from North Korea, South Korea and the United States have agreed to extend their large-scale joint air exercise by another day Seoul’s defense minister said Thursday following his talks with the Pentagon chief, reports Yonhap news agency.

After N Korea’s provocation, the joint military deal – which was scheduled to conclude on Friday – extended by another day.

The allies were scheduled to end the five-day Vigilant Storm practice on Friday, with around 240 aircraft, including F-35 stealth fighter jets, mobilized around the Korean Peninsula.

But they decided to extend it in response to North Korea’s firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday (Seoul time), the report said.

Following his talks with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said the drills would be stretched by a day at his direct request to the secretary.

He pointed out the allies have staged such a combined air training every year. This year, however, the scale has become larger, he added.

Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that Pyongyang had fired an unknown ballistic missile on the Sea of Japan. Media reports had said that the missile is believed to be an intermediate- or long-range missile.

Continuous missile launch unacceptable: Japan’s Kishida

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said North Korea’s continuing missile launches are absolutely unacceptable.

“Today, North Korea conducted missile launches again. The continuing missile launches are inexcusable and absolutely unacceptable,” Kishida said in a statement.

Irrevocable and awful mistake they made – N Korea

The North Korea, on Thursday night, fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea apparently in protest against the extension of the training.

The North accused the allies of pushing the regional security to an “uncontrollable” stage by extending the practice.

“It is a very dangerous and false choice,” Pak Jong-chon, secretary of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, said in an English-language statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

“The irresponsible decision of the U.S. and South Korea is shoving the present situation caused by provocative military acts of the allied forces to an uncontrollable phase,” he added. “The U.S. and South Korea will get to know what an irrevocable and awful mistake they made.”

The post S Korea, US extends joint air drills amid N Korea provocation appeared first on News24 English.

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