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South Korea-US naval exercise to proceed despite China

Reuters

South Korea said Friday it would stage a naval exercise with the United States in the Yellow Sea to deter North Korean "provocation", despite strong protests from China about the drill.

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"The date and methods have not yet been decided but the South Korea-US joint military exercise will be carried out," said Defence Ministry official Won Tae-Jae. "The joint exercise in the Yellow Sea is being planned because North Korea carried out an illegal provocation, the sinking of the Cheonan." 

The South accuses the North of torpedoing the warship in March with the loss of 46 lives. A multinational investigation also found North Korea responsible. Pyongyang has denied the accusation and threatened a tough response to any censure at the United Nations over the incident.

China on Thursday warned the United States and South Korea against holding the war games near its waters, and urged the two countries not to add to tensions with its ally North Korea.

The drill was originally set for last month but was delayed until the UN Security Council wraps up discussions on the sinking.

Permanent United Nations Security Council members China and Russia have not publicly accused the North of being behind the sinking.

According to a draft statement set to be adopted Friday, the council will condemn the attack which led to the sinking but stop short of directly blaming the North.

The draft, approved by all five permanent members, takes note of North Korea's denials of involvement. But it expresses "deep concern" at the findings of the multinational probe implicating the North.

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