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US B-1B Bomber Flies Over Korean Peninsula

In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force, a B-1B Lancer bomber assigned to 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 9, 2017.

A U.S. B-1B bomber flew over South Korea on Wednesday as part of a joint military exercise that comes a week after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

The bomber was joined by F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters for what South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said were simulated strikes at a military field.

A South Korean military statement said the two allies showed in the drill their "will and capability for strong retaliation against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats."

The United States and South Korea began a five-day drill, called "Vigilant Ace," on Monday amid increased tensions with North Korea.

The annual exercise, which includes an unusually large number of the latest generations of American stealth fighter jets, comes a week after North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile, an ICBM possibly capable of reaching the U.S. East Coast.

Some 12,000 U.S. service members, including from the Marines and Navy, are joining South Korean troops.

The U.S. Seventh Air Force has said the exercise is not in response to any incident or provocation.

But earlier, the North Korean state media said the drill pushes the Korean Peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war.”

North Korea routinely uses strong language to denounce U.S.-South Korean military exercises that it claims are preparations for an invasion of the reclusive country.

The high tensions on the peninsula are raising concerns, prompting the United Nations’ political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman to make a rare trip to Pyongyang.

A U.N. spokesman said Feltman will discuss “issues of mutual interest and concern” with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk during his visit, which ends on Friday — as does the military drill.

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