US, South Korea begin joint naval exercise to warn Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong-un and Trump

GETTYDonald Trump is being pleaded with to help save North Korean lives

The United States and South Korea have started joint naval drills that will involve three U.S. aircraft carriers in what military officials describe as a clear warning to North Korea.

It was the first time the Maritime Self-Defense Force had drilled with so many carriers.

"With the North Korea situation at an important phase, the role China ought to play is very big", Abe said.

The US warships will carry out air defence drills, sea surveillance, defensive air combat training and other training operations, the US Navy said.

The exercises come on the heels of Trump's visits to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing this week, which were dominated by the question of how to counter Pyongyang's nuclear weapons threat.

It marks the first massive joint drills since Seoul and Washington agreed last month to enhance rotational deployments of US strategic assets to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday for bilateral talks that are widely expected to focus on ways to improve the countries' ties.

Observers believe that Moon and Li are likely to discuss ways to resuscitate bilateral exchanges in the areas of economy, society and culture upon China's removal of its travel restriction toward South Korea and of a ban on Hallyu, or the Korean wave phenomenon.

On Friday he warned world leaders gathered in the Vietnamese resort city of Danang that the Asia-Pacific region "must not be held hostage to a dictator's twisted fantasies".

In a speech to the South Korean parliament on Wednesday, Trump warned Pyongyang not to underestimate the United States, while offering leader Kim Jong-Un a better future if he gives up his nuclear ambitions.

Xi said the two countries reiterated their "firm commitment" to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the implementation of United Nations resolutions.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, but a lot of them travel through China.

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