(Edited from China Daily, Beijing) US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Republic of Korea (ROK) counterpart Kim Tae-young made the announcement after meeting in Seoul on Tuesday.

The two sides said their drill, which will be held from July 25 to 28, is designed to send a “clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop” in the wake of the deadly sinking of ROK warship Cheonan in March that has been blamed on Pyongyang.

(Edited from China Daily, Beijing) US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Republic of Korea (ROK) counterpart Kim Tae-young made the announcement after meeting in Seoul on Tuesday.

The two sides said their drill, which will be held from July 25 to 28, is designed to send a “clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop” in the wake of the deadly sinking of ROK warship Cheonan in March that has been blamed on Pyongyang.

The first US-ROK drill will involve 10 US ships including the 97,000-ton aircraft carrier USS George Washington and eight ROK vessels, Gates said.

The joint exercise will also involve more than 200 fighter planes from both sides, the Seoul-based Yonghap News Agency reported.

The US F-22 raptor, which can reportedly attack Pyongyang’s Yongbyon nuclear facilities only half an hour after departure, will also debut on the Korean Peninsula.

The two allies announced plans of more drills in both the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan, without specifying dates.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday condemned the planned drills. A signed commentary in the Minju Joson newspaper described the plan as “very dangerous saber-rattling aimed at further straining the already deadlocked inter-Korean relations”, the State-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not yet responded to the latest announcement.

Beijing has strongly protested against the exercise first set in the Yellow Sea near its coast. The joint drill is very dangerous for China with Beijing under the attacking sphere of the US aircraft carrier, military analysts had said.

The US-ROK joint exercise was repeatedly delayed and partially located to the Sea of Japan with the aircraft carrier to stop further straining US-China military relations, which have been frozen since the White House tried to push forward a massive arms deal with Taiwan earlier this year, analysts said.

“The US and ROK have taken our feelings into account this time … ideally we would want the drill to be far off our sea territory,” Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies, told China Daily.

The DPRK has also benefited from the change in the schedule of the exercise as the new date and location have “lessened pressure” on it, Li said.

The US now wants to get the Six-Party Talks back on track to better focus on Iran, Li said

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