South Korea says holds first joint air drill with Japan and US

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea, together with Japan and the United States, held a joint aerial exercise near the Korean peninsula on Sunday, the South Korean military said, marking the first such collaboration between the three countries.

The drill aimed to expand the countries’ response capabilities against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, South Korea’s air force said in a statement.

It involved a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber as well as fighter jets of the three nations.

At the Camp David summit in August, leaders of Japan, South Korea and the United States agreed to carry out annual, multi-domain trilateral exercises and set up a hot line for crisis communications.

The aerial exercise is the latest effort by Washington and its two Asian allies to strengthen ties in the face of tensions with North Korea and China’s influence in the region.

Also on Sunday, South Korean and U.S. navies completed a joint anti-submarine exercise called Silent Shark, the South Korean navy said.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Barbara Lewis)