S. Korean miliary steps up security near Dokdo for Lee’s visit

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s military has stepped up security in the East Sea on Friday, ahead of President Lee Myung-bak’s planned visit to the easternmost islets of Dokdo, military officials said.

“The military increased the number of Air Force combat planes and Navy vessels patrolling (near Dokdo),” a senior official said, asking anonymity as he is not allowed to speak about military information to media. “The military reinforced its forces to prepare in case of an emergency, as Lee is expected to visit Dokdo.”

Officials at the presidential office said Lee is expected to visit Dokdo if the weather is right for the trip after he first visits the nearby Ulleung Island. Lee would be the first South Korean president ever to visit Dokdo if the trip is realized.

The Air Force’s main fighters, F-15K and KF-16, and Navy’s guard ships will patrol around Dokdo about the time Lee nears the islets, according to military officials. An early warning and control plane “Peace Eye” will also conduct a reconnaissance mission, they noted.

Lee’s historic visit to the islets comes after Japan last week renewed the claims in its annual defense “White Paper” report and comes days before South Korea observes Liberation Day on Wednesday, to celebrate Korea’s independence from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.

Meanwhile, South Korea will go ahead with the planned joint military exercises in waters near Dokdo next week, officials said, noting the exact date has not been confirmed.

The biannual exercise will be carried out under a scenario in which the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard conduct a joint operation to drive out a vessel that has invaded the territorial waters near Dokdo.

South Korea has kept a small police detachment on Dokdo since 1954.

ejkim@yna.co.kr

[YONHAP NEWS AGENCY] | Original News @ HERE
Date : 2012/08/10

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