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S Korea to stage military drill near disputed island

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SEOUL (AFP): South Korea will stage a regular military exercise near a disputed island this month amid a renewed territorial claim by Japan, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

The twice-yearly defensive drill near the Seoul- controlled islet in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) will be held in mid-August, a ministry spokesman told AFP without elaborating.

The island is called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima by Japan.

Seoul on Tuesday voiced "strong protests" at a renewed claim to the island in Tokyo's recent defence white paper, and summoned a senior Japanese diplomat to lodge a complaint.

Yonhap news agency said the upcoming drill grouping the navy, army, air force and coastguard would involve some 10 warships plus F-15K fighter jets and other weaponry.

The scenario is to repel a foreign ship in waters near Dokdo, it quoted a military source as saying.

The rocky island, roughly halfway between the two countries, has been disputed for decades between South Korea and its former colonial ruler Japan.

Seoul deploys a small coastguard force on Dokdo.

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