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US sends aircraft carrier close to North Korea waters

Washington: The US has ordered the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike force towards waters near North Korea, as a show of force against the military provocations of the Kim Jong-un regime.

Pentagon sources on Saturday told CNN that US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. has ordered the Nimitz-class supercarrier and all its support ships towards the Korean peninsula.

The USS Carl Vinson — controlled by the US Third Fleet in the Pacific ocean — suspended a scheduled visit to Australia and after leaving Singapore turned towards the Korean peninsula.

It was already deployed to the peninsula a month ago to participate in the annual military exercises with South Korea.

Defence sources said the deployment was in response to the new military developments in North Korea, which recently carried out several medium-range ballistic missile tests and test-fired new missile engines.

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It is not uncommon for the US to deploy a nuclear powered aircraft carrier to areas as a sign of strength during a crisis.

The strike group’s change of route comes just after US President Donald Trump met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Florida to discuss the need to stop the military advancements of Pyongyang.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump and Xi agreed on the “urgency of the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme” and agreed to work together to resolve the issue “peacefully”.

Earlier this year, China called on both North Korea and the US to tone down tension on the Korean peninsula — North Korea by suspending its nuclear weapons programme and the US by stopping military exercises with South Korea that inflame Pyongyang.

Trump days before meeting Xi warned that the US was prepared to act unilaterally to stop North Korea’s nuclear advances should China be unwilling to use its leverage over Pyongyang.

The nuclear-powered, 97,000-ton Vinson, one of 10 active US aircraft carriers, has more than 60 aircraft and about 5,000 personnel. It is based in San Diego.

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