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U.S. to consider S. Korean seas as site for regional disaster relief drill

All Headlines 15:29 April 11, 2017

SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- The United States Navy will consider South Korean seas as a place to host Pacific Partnership, a U.S.-led annual regional exercise for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, if invited by the South Korean government, the commander of the mission said Tuesday.

Mobilizing expeditionary fast transport USNS Fall River, this year's Pacific Partnership made its first stop in Sri Lanka and is currently taking place in Malaysia, with the participation of more than 200 military and civilian personnel from the U.S, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. Vietnam will be the next stop for the annual exercise.

Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, was introduced following the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 to improve the interoperability of the region's military forces for disaster relief operations. This year marks Pacific Partnership's 12th iteration.

"Pacific Partnership is usually geared toward the Southeast region of Asia due to the almost normalcy of natural weather patterns, natural disasters here like tsunamis and typhoons," U.S. Navy Capt. Stanfield Chien, the commander of Pacific Partnership, said in a teleconference from Malaysia.

"Because we are focused on that, I don't know if Korea would be one of the places we can visit, but I will say that should we receive an invitation from the South Korean government, that will always be considered," he said.

For this year's exercise, a team of about four civilian and military doctors and medical personnel will join from South Korea, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Burns, officer in charge of Pacific Partnership's Malaysian portion.

The South Korea contingent will mainly participate in the medical component of the mission which includes the task of evaluating and treating patients rescued in the exercise, he said.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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