news Monday, March 09, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | February 10, 2015 | 5:00 pm IST

South Korean and US military units carried out a joint maritime infiltration drill on Tuesday close to the North Korean border, an exercise that could further aggravate tensions which are already high after Pyongyang recently tested missiles.

Around 200 South Korean naval troops and 20 US Marines participated in the drill in the islands in northwestern South Korea, in the Yellow Sea, the Seoul headquarters of the US Marines announced.

It was the first war exercise of this type which both naval forces carried out in the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea where there have long been frequent clashes between North and South Korea.

In the joint exercise, the troops practiced entering enemy waters, attacking targets and escaping.

The objective was to improve inter-operability and combat capabilities between the allied naval forces against perceived threats from North Korea.

The war games could further strain relations between North Korea and South Korea as the Kim Jong-un regime usually responds with threats and missile drills to joint military exercises by Seoul and Washington, which it considers as "invasion drills".

On Sunday, the North Korean armed forces launched five short-range tactical missiles from the coastal region of Wonsan, close to the South Korean border, which led Seoul to heighten its military alert level.

Next month, 1,000 US Marines and 3,000 South Korean troops are expected to take part in annual joint military exercises, known as the Ssangyong Drill, at Pohang in the southeastern part of the country.

The US has a permanent force of some 28,500 troops in South Korea to defend its ally against North Korean aggression in an arrangement dating back to the end of the Korean War of the early 1950s.

IANS

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