Strike group commander Rear Admiral Michael Donnelly told reporters aboard the ship that the visit was designed to build allied relations and boost interoperability between the navies.
A US soldier checks the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Busan, South Korea, on Friday, 23 September 2022. Source: AAP / AP
‘We are leaving messaging to diplomats’
North Korea has denounced previous US military deployments and joint drills as rehearsals for war and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul.
Last week the United States said the carrier’s visit was a “clear demonstration” of its commitment to deploy and exercise strategic assets to deter Pyongyang and enhance regional security.
In announcing the visit, however, the US Navy made no mention of North Korea, referring only to a “regularly scheduled port visit” and emphasising crew members visiting Busan to volunteer at orphanages and explore the K-pop music scene.
Protesters stage a rally to oppose the planned the joint military exercises between the US and South Korea in front of the US Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, 22 September 2022. Source: AAP / AP
The visit is the first to South Korea by an American aircraft carrier since 2018. Many drills were since scaled back or cancelled due to diplomatic efforts with North Korea or because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tighter military coordination
Mr Donnelly said such questions are for policymakers above him but said that operating with like-minded allies such as South Korea is a key part of the US Navy’s efforts to maintain the regional security and stability that has existed for more than seven decades.
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