North Korea warns of ‘merciless’ strikes as U.S. carrier joins South Korea drills

UNTV News   •   March 14, 2017   •   3004

U.S. Navy F18 fighter jets are pictured on the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a routine exercise in South China Sea, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

North Korea warned the United States on Tuesday of “merciless” attacks if an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson, which is joining South Korean forces for exercises, infringes on its sovereignty or dignity.

North Korea, which has alarmed its neighbors with two nuclear tests and a string of missile launches since last year, said the arrival of the U.S. strike group was part of a “reckless scheme” to attack it.

“If they infringe on the DPRK’s sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater,” the North’s state news agency KCNA said.

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army,” KCNA said.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said the Carl Vinson was on a regular, scheduled deployment to the region during which it would take part in exercises with the forces of ally South Korea.

Last week, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan in response to annual U.S.-South Korea military drills, which the North sees as preparation for war.

The murder in Malaysia last month of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother has added to a sense of urgency to efforts to handle North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to make his first visit to South Korea on Friday.

Last week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said President Donald Trump’s administration was re-evaluating its North Korea strategy and “all options are on the table”.

CHINESE OPPOSITION

Compounding regional tension, China is vehemently opposed to the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system.

The United States and South Korea say the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system is for defense against North Korea, but China fears its powerful radar can probe deep into its territory and compromise its security.

The United States began to deploy the system a week ago, a day after North Korea launched its latest four missile tests.

South Korean and U.S. troops began the large-scale joint drills, which are billed as defensive in nature, on March 1.

The exercise last year involved about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans. South Korea has said this year’s exercise would be of a similar scale.

The United States has also started to deploy “Gray Eagle” attack drones to South Korea, a U.S. military spokesman said on Monday.

China says the exercises do nothing to ease tension. Last week, it called on North Korea to stop its weapons tests and for South Korea and the United States to stop their drills.

A state-run Chinese newspaper said the USS Carl Vinson was taking part in a simulation of a preemptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities.

The drills sent the North “an explicit radical threat”, to which it could not be expected to remain indifferent, the influential Global Times said. North and South Korea were “equally hysterical”, it said.

“The U.S. and South Korea often accuse China of being uncooperative, but the reality is they are uncooperative over China’s mediation,” it said, referring to complaints that China does not do enough to rein in old ally North Korea.

(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait)

Duterte to listen to public’s sentiment on VFA issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is open to listening to the public about their sentiments on the issue regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said those who wish to voice out their opinions on whether the VFA should be abolished or not can send messages through the government hotline 8888.

Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate and send an email or message through government agency hotlines for it to reach the President), he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Wednesday (February 24), said he is still undecided on what to do. He previously demanded the US to pay if it wants the VFA to continue.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military will support the decision of the President but also said the Philippines should be able to defend itself without any assistance. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH urges Filipinos in the US to exercise ‘utmost caution’ amid rise in anti-Asian attacks

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Embassy in Washington has cautioned Filipinos in the United States (US) to stay safe and vigilant amid rising incidents of anti-Asian attacks in various parts of the US. 

The Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also called on the local authorities in the US to further ensure the protection of Asian Americans, including Filipinos.

“The Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in the United States appreciate the swift action taken by a number of local authorities to apprehend perpetrators of these attacks. However, we call on federal, state, and local authorities to further ensure the protection of persons of Asian descent, including Filipinos,” the DFA said.

Among the reports concerning violence against those of Asian descent include the case of Filipino-American Noel Quintana who was slashed in the face by a fellow subway passenger early February this year.

Filipinos in the US have been advised to immediately call 911 if they experience an attack. AAC

Lacson reiterates diplomatic approach more effective on PH-US VFA talks

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—A diplomatic approach will be more effective in discussing the Philippine-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) instead of using strong words to send a message, according to Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson.

“The President may have used strong words to send his message across to the US. But certainly, there is a more civil and statesmanlike manner to ask for compensation from a longtime ally using the usual diplomatic channels and still get the same desired results,” he said.

Lacson made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (February 12) said the US will have to “pay” if it wants the VFA with the Philippines to continue. Duterte also said that US’ “share of responsibility does not come free.”

The senator said the the country needs the VFA especially with recent Chinese intrusions into its territory, particularly in the West Philippine Sea. AAC

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