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South Korea Starts Live-Fire Drills Amid Tensions With North


A South Korean Navy vessel patrols near Yeonpyeong Island. (file photo)
Amid high tensions with neighboring North Korea, South Korea has today begun live-ammunition naval firing exercises.

Military officials said the exercises, which are expected to last around a week, were taking place in 29 locations along South Korea's western, eastern, and southern coasts.

South Korean officials said no exercises were planned to take place near Yeonpyeong Island, which was hit by North Korean shells on November 23 in an attack that killed four South Koreans.

North Korea has warned the South against carrying out the new live-fire drills, saying they risk escalating tensions.

The North Korean situation is expected to be discussed in a three-way meeting today in Washington between the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, the White House says U.S. President Barack Obama has called Chinese President Hu Jintao to discuss tensions on the Korean peninsula.

In the telephone call late on December 5, Obama urged the Chinese president to work with the United States and others to send "a clear message" to North Korea that its provocations are "unacceptable."

compiled from agency reports