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S. Korea, U.S. stage joint air drills amid DPRK warning

SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the United States staged joint air drills involving strategic U.S. bombers and fighters, Seoul's defense ministry said on Thursday.

Mobilized for the combined air exercises were B-1B strategic bombers and F-22 and F-35B stealth fighter jets from the U.S. air force as well as F-35A fighters from the South Korean air force.

The drills were conducted on Wednesday over the western waters of South Korea to show "the U.S. will and capabilities to provide strong and credible extended deterrence," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry noted that the two allies will strengthen their joint military exercises in connection with the deployment of U.S. strategic assets.

The joint air drills came after the defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States held talks in Seoul on Tuesday, agreeing to expand and bolster the level and scale of this year's combined exercises and training.

In response the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) condemned the "reckless military confrontational maneuvers and hostile acts" of the United States and South Korea.

The DPRK lashed out at the United States and South Korea for extending continued combined drills in scale and scope, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, citing a statement issued by the ministry.

Pyongyang reiterated its principled stance on the United States: the country will stick to the principle of "nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation" and will not get interested in any contact or dialogue with Washington as long as the latter persists in a hostile policy and confrontational line, according to the statement.