USA bombers conduct drills off both coasts of Korean Peninsula

The South Korean military said this was part of a regular exercise to bolster military defences and also to display the alliance between the United States and South Korea

North Korea watchers have been on alert for a possible provocation by the communist state in the days surrounding a key holiday Tuesday to mark the founding anniversary of its ruling party.

A group of about 40 businessmen are hoping to visit the complex, which Seoul shut down in February past year over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, according to company officials.

"Although I will not comment on intelligence matters or specific incidents related to cyber intrusion, I can assure you that we are confident in the security of our operations plans and our ability to deal with any threat from North Korea", Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters.

North Korea's foreign minister told Russian journalists that Donald Trump lit the "fuse of war" when the USA president labeled Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man" in a recent speech at the United Nations.

The White House said Trump met with members of his national security team on Tuesday to discuss the growing threat from the North.

The Air Force said Tuesday's overflight demonstrated how USA military forces "are always ready to defend the American homeland and how the US stands resolutely with Japan and [South Korea] to honor their unshakeable alliance commitments to safeguard security and stability".

An unusually aggressive approach to the North by Trump, which has included rhetoric hinting at US strikes and threatening the destruction of North Korea's leadership, has some South Koreans fearful that war is closer than at any time since the Korean War ended in 1953 in a shaky cease-fire, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war.

United States operations out of Guam are particularly provocative, as most suggestions are that a real USA attack on North Korea would come from warplanes out of Guam.

North Korea's been tied to data breaches before, including the infamous 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in retaliation for its release of "The Interview", a comedy about an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

According to the survey by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 65 percent of Americans believe the war of words between Trump and the North Korean leadership has made the situation worse.

While the new measures also include limitations on the sale of refined petroleum products and crude oil, European Union member states will not provide new work permits to North Korean nationals. "It is also consistent with the view of many other members of the worldwide community to lessen, reduce or completely diminish any diplomatic relationship with North Korea". A similar number, or 69 percent, said they are concerned about the threat to United States allies, such as South Korea and Japan.

Fears the crisis could spiral into open conflict have risen as the communist state demonstrated rapid progress in its efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that could target the US mainland despite several rounds of punishing United Nations and other worldwide sanctions against it.

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