US bombers take to Korea's skies as Trump discusses options

A US Air Force B-1B taking off from an airbase in Guam on Tuesday to fly with two Japan Air Self-Defence Force F-15s and two Republic of Korea Air Force F-15Ks over the Korean peninsula.
A US Air Force B-1B taking off from an airbase in Guam on Tuesday to fly with two Japan Air Self-Defence Force F-15s and two Republic of Korea Air Force F-15Ks over the Korean peninsula.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Tensions soar following North's missile tests, hostile exchanges between Trump and Kim

SEOUL/ WASHINGTON • The US military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force as President Donald Trump met top defence officials to discuss how to respond to any threat from North Korea.

Tensions have soared between the United States and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it advanced towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

The two US Air Force B-1B bombers on Tuesday night were joined by two F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after the American planes left their base in Guam, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement yesterday.

In August, Pyongyang threatened to fire intermediate-range missiles towards the vicinity of Guam, a US Pacific territory.

The US military said in a separate statement that it conducted drills with Japanese fighters after the exercise with South Korea, making it the first time American bombers have trained with fighters from both Japan and South Korea at night.

In a statement, the White House said Mr Trump hosted a discussion on Tuesday on options to respond to any North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the US and its allies with nuclear weapons.

SANCTIONS ALONE WON'T WORK

The international community won't accept North Korea as a nuclear power. North Korea needs time and proof to believe that abandoning its nuclear programme will contribute to its own political and economic advantage. This positive process is worth a try.

CHINA'S GLOBAL TIMES, in an editorial.

At a regular press briefing in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying urged all sides to exercise restraint over the North Korea issue, adding that they should avoid provoking each other.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has banned four ships from global ports for carrying coal from North Korea, including one vessel that also had ammunition. The vessels are the first to be designated under stepped-up sanctions imposed on North Korea.

China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, has long argued that sanctions alone will not work, and urged Washington and Pyongyang to lower their rhetoric and return to the negotiating table.

"The international community won't accept North Korea as a nuclear power. North Korea needs time and proof to believe that abandoning its nuclear programme will contribute to its own political and economic advantage. This positive process is worth a try," China's influential Global Times said in an editorial late on Tuesday.

"War would be a nightmare for the Korean peninsula and surrounding regions. We strongly urge North Korea and the US to stop their bellicose posturing and seriously think about a peaceful solution," the paper said.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline 'US bombers take to Korea's skies as Trump discusses options'. Print Edition | Subscribe