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US flies B-1B bomber over South Korea in show of force against North Korea

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SEOUL — The US has flown B-1B Lancer strategic bomber and F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets over South Korea skies accompanied by South Korean military aircraft as a part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes, Yonhap News Agency says.

The maneuvers are part of the unprecedented joint air force Vigilant Ace 18 drills that kicked off Monday.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday the Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a military field near South Korea’s eastern coast during a drill with US and South Korean fighter jets.

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The drills staged by the US and South Korea feature hundreds of warplanes conducting mock attacks on North Korean nuclear and missile objects in different war scenarios, but are claimed to be of a “defensive nature.”

Flyovers of B-1Bs have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three ICBM tests has clearly moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the US mainland.

GNN/AP

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US ready to talk to North Korea without preconditions

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WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said Washington is ready to begin talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, without pre-conditions.

“We’re ready to have the first meeting without preconditions,” Tillerson told a meeting on the crisis at the Atlantic Council policy forum in Washington.

Tillerson’s new diplomatic overture comes nearly two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a breakthrough intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put the entire United States mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

“Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about,” Tillerson said.

This appeared to represent a softening in the US position, seeing as officials had previously demanded that Kim Jong-Un’s regime demonstrate a willingness to consider giving up its arsenal.

ALSO READ :  Pyongyang bans Malaysians from leaving North Korea

But, the White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether President Donald Trump — who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea — had given his approval for the speech.

“The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said adding, “North Korea is acting in an unsafe way … North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-Un has vowed to make North Korea the “world’s strongest nuclear power,” tate media reported Wednesday.

Mr Kim told workers behind the recent test of a new missile that his country “will victoriously advance and leap as the strongest nuclear power and military power in the world,” in a ceremony on Tuesday, according to state news agency KCNA.

GNN/Reuters

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