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(LEAD) Two B-1B bombers to train over Korea

All Headlines 11:18 June 20, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with details from 5th para)

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- Two U.S. long-range strategic bombers will train with South Korea's fighter jets over the peninsula later Tuesday as part of a regular combined exercise, defense officials said.

"Our Air Force plans to hold a joint drill with two B-1Bs in the sky of the Korean Peninsula today," Lt. Col. Kim Sung-duk, a public relations officer of the South Korean Air Force, told reporters.

The B-1B Lancers are scheduled to fly over Korea for a few hours along with two F-15K fighter jets, he added.

An image of U.S. strategic assets in a file photo. (Yonhap)

He pointed out the allies have regularly conducted such joint air training.

A source said the bombers, a key strategic asset of the U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, will carry out mock bombing practice at the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon.

The sortie of the U.S. bombers based in Guam comes after the reported death of a U.S. college student released from North Korea in a coma after 17 months of detention.

Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, died at a Cincinnati hospital on Monday (local time), according to his family.

The B-1B's flight here also follows controversial remarks by Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on unification, security and foreign affairs, that Seoul may decrease the deployment of U.S. strategic assets here and the number of the allies' combined military drills if the North freezes its nuclear and missile development.

The presidential office dismissed it as the scholar's personal view, not the government's official position.

The U.S. sent B-1B bombers to Korea on May 29, hours after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile.

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

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