North Korea warned at the United Nations yesterday that the deployment of three U.S. aircraft carriers in joint navy drills with South Korea was fuelling tensions that could lead to nuclear war.
The drill is the first in a decade in the region involving a three-carrier strike force.
"Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the US Pacific Fleet's unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region", said Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet.
Meanwhile, the top US negotiator with North Korea arrived in South Korea yesterday, a visit that comes as hopes rise for an easing of tensions on the peninsula in the wake of US President Donald Trump's visit and a lull in missile testing.
Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that "this is what we normally do with allies".
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South Korean military said it was keeping a close watch on North Korea's military activities while "maintaining military readiness for any possible provocations by North North Korea".
North Korean government officials told CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the U.S. was increasingly taking action that could "ignite another Korean War". The Reagan - homeported in Japan - joined the other two carriers, which are based in the Western United States.
According to a Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) press statement, the two navies conducted various tactical exercises this Sunday aimed at improving the tactical skills of the JMSDF and enhancing collaboration with the U.S. Navy.
Ships from Japan and South Korea joined the exercise, officials said.
The ships accompanying the carriers included destroyers and cruisers equipped with the Aegis system as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles. It was the first time three USA aircraft carrier strike groups have been assembled in the Sea of Japan since North Korea's nuclear and missile program surfaced in the 1990s.