Japan, the United States and South Korea held a joint exercise in the East China Sea, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force said Friday, in an apparent effort to enhance deterrence against China and North Korea.

The two-day exercise from Thursday, involving a U.S. carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered Theodore Roosevelt, took place as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is visiting the United States for talks with President Joe Biden.

(From L, front row) The Japanese destroyer the Ariake, the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the Theodore Roosevelt and the South Korean Aegis-equipped destroyer the Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong participate in a joint exercise in the East China Sea on April 11, 2024. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)(Kyodo)

It was the first trilateral training exercise for Washington and its two East Asian security allies in the East China Sea, where Beijing has been intensifying its maritime assertiveness, since January.

Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs also remain a major regional security threat.

The Japanese destroyer the Ariake and the South Korean destroyer the Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong also took part in the exercise, which included anti-submarine warfare drills and search and rescue operations, according to the MSDF.

With China in mind, Kishida and Biden agreed to boost their security alliance during their talks in Washington on Wednesday, and held a three-way summit with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the following day, vowing to advance their defense and economic ties.

Kishida became the first Japanese leader to visit the United States as a state guest since then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015.

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