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US, South Korea fly warplanes after north’s missile tests

South Korea and the United States flew warplanes including stealth fighter jets over waters around the Korean peninsula Tuesday in a fresh show of force following recent missile tests by the North, Seoul said.
Sixteen South Korean warplanes, including F-35 stealth fighters and four US F-16 jets, formed an attack squadron over the West Sea – also known as the Yellow Sea – to “respond to the enemy threat,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
The allies “demonstrated their strong ability and will to strike quickly and accurately against any provocation from North Korea,” it added.
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The air maneuvers, which involved some 20 warplanes, come a day after the allies fired eight ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in the wake of Pyongyang’s Sunday weapons tests.
On Sunday, North Korea fired eight short range ballistic missiles from four different locations in the space of 30 minutes – one of its largest-ever tests, analysts said.
The nuclear-armed country has carried out a blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.
US and South Korean officials have been warning for weeks that Kim Jong Un’s regime is preparing to carry out a fresh nuclear test.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in Seoul on a three-day visit, warned there would be a “swift and forceful” response were Pyongyang to go ahead with what would be its seventh such test.
“Any nuclear test would be in complete violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” she told reporters after meeting with her South Korean counterpart.
The entire world will respond in a “strong and clear manner,” she said, adding: “We are prepared.”
Sherman said the United States was still willing to engage in dialogue with the North, saying that Washington “harbors no hostile intent toward” Pyongyang.
Tuesday’s air maneuvers are the third such joint show of force by the allies under South Korea’s hawkish new President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has vowed a tougher stance against Pyongyang.
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North Korea defends close ties with Russia against South Korean criticism at UN

North Korea on Monday slammed South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol for criticising its cooperation with Moscow following leader Kim Jong Un’s Russia visit, saying it is “natural” and “normal” for neighbors to keep close relations.

Yoon, speaking at the UN General Assembly last week, said that if Russia helped North Korea enhance its weapons programs in return for assistance for its war in Ukraine, it would be “a direct provocation.”

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In a piece carried by KCNA news agency, the North denounced Yoon for “malignantly” slandering its friendly cooperation with Russia, and said Yoon was serving as a “loudspeaker” for the United States.

“It is quite natural and normal for neighboring countries to keep close relations with each other, and there is no reason to call such practice to account,” it said.

Kim returned home last week from a week-long trip to Russia in which he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to boost military and economic cooperation.

US and South Korean officials have expressed concern that Russia could be trying to acquire ammunition from the North to supplement its dwindling stocks for the war in Ukraine while Pyongyang seeks technological help for its nuclear and missile programs.

Any activities assisting North Korea’s weapons programs are banned under UN Security Council resolutions.

“The foreign policy of the DPRK … will not be tied to anything, and its friendly and cooperative relations with the close neighbors will continue to grow stronger,” the commentary said. DPRK is the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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Niger military leaders welcome news of French army withdrawal

Niger’s military rulers on Sunday welcomed the announcement that France will pull its troops out of the country by the end of the year as “a new step towards sovereignty.”

The statement came hours after French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris would soon withdraw its ambassador from Niger, followed by its military contingent in the coming months.

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“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” said a statement from the country’s military rulers, who seized power in late July by overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

“The French troops and the ambassador of France will leave Nigerien soil by the end of the year.”

The statement, read out on national television, added: “This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people.”

Earlier Sunday, before Macron’s announcement, the body regulating aviation safety in Africa (ASECNA), announced that Niger’s military rulers had banned “French aircraft” from flying over the country’s airspace.

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Russian air defense thwarts drone attack near Moscow’s Tula region

Russia’s air defense systems were engaged in repelling a drone attack over the Tula region that borders Moscow’s region to its north, Russia’s RIA news agency reported early Monday.

Citing the ministry of regional security, the agency reported that according to preliminary information, there was no damage or injuries as a result of the attack.

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Two of Moscow’s major airports, however, the Vnukovo and Domedovo, limited air traffic, directing flights to other airports, the TASS state news agency reported.

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