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The drills began in waters off South Korea's eastern coast.

The United States and South Korea began joint naval exercises Saturday involving three USA aircraft carriers, in what military officials describe as a clear warning to North Korea.

The upcoming practice is aimed at bolstering the South Korea-U.S. alliance's policy of "extended deterrence" against the North's nuclear and missile provocations, it added.

The joint chiefs of staff of South Korea said in a statement in Seoul that its naval vessels will participate in the drills.

The US warships will carry out air defense drills, sea surveillance, defensive air combat training and other training operations, the US Navy said.

After President Donald Trump described his strategy on containing North Korea as "peace through strength", Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the North Korean ruling party's mouthpiece, published an article on Friday protesting the drills and vowing to "defend peace until the end".

A flurry of missile tests from North Korea this year have raised the likelihood of South Korea using the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system - something China has vehemently opposed.

President Moon Jae-in will visit China next month for summit talks with President Xi Jinping to discuss advancing future-oriented bilateral relations.

In a commentary released Saturday, the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's official media, criticized the United States for "heightening military tension in the Asia-Pacific region".

Xi said the two countries reiterated their "firm commitment" to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the implementation of United Nations resolutions.

Tensions have been running high since North Korea test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and flew ballistic missiles over Japan on August 29 and September 15.

Trump has embarked on a tour of Asia this week trying to rally regional support for curbing North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, warning that time is running out over the crisis.


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