US, Japan and allies to set strategy on North Korea

The United States will host high-level talks on Monday with allies South Korea and Japan to forge a strategy for dealing with a volatile nuclear-armed North Korea amid allied shows of military force.

The talks hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton follow North Korea’s deadly bombardment of a South Korean border island on November 23, which triggered days of US-South Korean war games in the Yellow Sea.

Meanwhile, South Korea threatened to hit back with air strikes at the North if there is a new assault, and the largest ever US-Japan war games kicked off Friday in waters off the tense Korean peninsula.

The allied muscle-flexing and Clinton’s planned talks with foreign ministers Kim Sung-hwan of South Korea and Seiji Maehara of Japan expose the isolation of China, which has taken a softer approach to reining in its ally in Pyongyang.

The United States, South Korea and Japan all refused China’s invitation for them and Russia to hold emergency six-party talks in Beijing after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island, killing two civilians and two marines.

The five countries, plus North Korea, make up the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at scrapping Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo oppose a return to the negotiations until Pyongyang shows it is serious about disarmament.

Read the rest of the story: US, key Asian allies to forge strategy on N.Korea.

North Korea Condemns U.S., Japan, South Korea ‘Military’ Alliance

North Korea denounced the U.S., South Korea and Japan for “reckless moves” to create a military alliance that threatens peace in North Asia.

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is getting tenser as the days go by and the danger of a war is increasing hour by hour,” the state-run Korea Central News Agency reported, citing a commentary in the Rodong newspaper yesterday. ‘The U.S. is giving spurs to an arms buildup and preparations for a war.”

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased since North Korea’s Nov. 23 shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island that killed two soldiers and two civilians. South Korea’s new defense minister Kim Kwan Jin two days ago vowed retaliation that would include airstrikes if North Korea made another attack.

The U.S. sent the USS George Washington to join South Korean naval forces in an exercise in the Yellow Sea at the end of November and the aircraft carrier is now taking part in drills with Japan involving about 400 aircraft and 60 warships. More than 40,000 Japanese and U.S. military personnel began a weeklong exercise on Dec. 3.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and South Korean counterpart Kim Sung Hwan tomorrow to discuss regional security.

“Just as the U.S. has NATO in Europe, it is in the process of establishing a war structure of an ‘anti-Communist crusade’ called the U.S.-Japan-South Korea tripartite military alliance in Northeast Asia,” KCNA cited the Rodong commentary as saying. Joint actions such as defense studies and military exercises have become frequent between the three nations, it said.

Read the rest of the story: North Korea Condemns U.S., Japan, South Korea Creating `Military’ Alliance.

Japan, US to conduct biggest ever military drill

Japan and the United States will hold their biggest ever joint military drills just days after a US and South Korean show of force amid tensions on the Korean peninsula, officials said Thursday.

The previously announced "Keen Sword" drills, which were planned before North Korea’s artillery barrage of a South Korean island last week, will take place from Friday to December 10, a US military official confirmed.

"Keen Sword will cap the 50th anniversary of the Japan-US alliance as an ‘alliance of equals’," Major William Vause, chief of operational plans, training and exercises said in a statement.

"It is the largest bilateral exercise between the United States and Japan military forces."

To demonstrate solidarity with Seoul, the Pacific allies will for the first time invite South Korean military officers to observe the drills, Japanese officials said.

"It turns out to be good timing to show the bond between Japan and the United States," a senior Japanese defence ministry official told the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, with the drill following US-South Korea exercises that ended Wednesday.

Around 34,000 Japanese military personnel with 40 warships and 250 aircraft will join more than 10,000 US counterparts with 20 warships and 150 aircraft in the drill in Japanese waters off its southern islands, close to the southern coast of South Korea.

Read the rest of the story: Japan, US to conduct biggest ever military drill.