The Maritime Self-Defense Force has held three days of rare trilateral exercises with vessels from the Indian and U.S. navies, including the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
The drills, which took place in the Sea of Japan and also involved destroyers from the MSDF and U.S. as well as two Indian warships, kicked off Friday and ended Monday.
“The purpose of the exercise was to bolster war-fighting skills and strengthen ties with the Indian Navy,” the MSDF said in a statement.
The show of force came as U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off his first visit to Asia as leader on Sunday. Trump, who visited Japan on Sunday and Monday, was in South Korea on Tuesday for events with U.S. troops and meetings with President Moon Jae-in.
Trump’s whirlwind tour, which will also take him to China and Vietnam, has been widely expected to focus on reining in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
The U.S. carriers, the Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt, and their accompanying warships are currently all in the western Pacific and will reportedly hold joint drills soon. The U.S. Navy last saw three carrier strike groups exercise together in 2007.
Pyongyang, in a commentary published by state-run media, slammed the U.S. for sending so-called strategic assets such as carriers, bombers and other weapons to the area.
“Trump can never browbeat the army and people of the DPRK with such nuclear strategic assets,” the Rodong Sinmun said Monday, using the official name for North Korea. “If the Trump group dares try to topple down the DPRK, its army will never pardon the enemies.
“It is the strong will of all the servicepersons and civilians of the DPRK to wipe out the bulwark of aggression and annihilate the enemies to prevent something crazy with striking power unimaginable in the world,” the commentary said.