A strike group headed by the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson is still thousands of kilometres from the Korean peninsula, according to the latest photographs issued by the US Navy, amid concerns over a possible US military strike against North Korea's nuclear programme.
"After departing Singapore on April 8 and canceling a scheduled port visit to Perth, the Strike Group was able to complete a curtailed period of previously scheduled training with Australia in global waters off the northwest coast of Australia", a U.S. Pacific Command spokesperson told the Post in a statement.
That was when tensions peaked over the possibility of North Korea's nuclear or missile test on the occasion of the birthday of national founder Kim Il-sung.
In an interview a week ago with Fox Business Network, Trump declined to outline his potential strategy against North Korea, but added that "we are sending an armada, very powerful". On Tuesday, Pacific Command said only that the strike group completed military exercises - and would now head north.
But although the USS Vinson carrier group headed into the South China Sea, it didn't continue north towards the Korean Peninsula.
"We can not comment on details of United States operation of its assets", a military official said in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. "It is happening, rather", White House spokesman Sean Spicer was quoted as saying.
"We are sending an armada, very powerful".
Mattis told reporters April 11 the Vinson was "on her way up there".
Abe has indicated he will discuss North Korea with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting later this month. "It was heading there, it is heading there", Spicer said.
South Korea and the US were discussing plans to conduct a joint exercise after the strike group's expected arrival sometime next week, an unidentified military source told Yonhap.
Defense News' well-known naval correspondent Christopher P. Cavas was first to report on Monday about the Navy's post that revealed the Carl Vinson nowhere near the Korean Peninsula.
And a picture dated April 15 shows the Vinson in the Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.
On Wednesday, the US Navy posted photos to its website of the USS Carl Vinson in a location in the South China Sea, on what it describes as a "regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment".
The Vinson group includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its embarked air wing, the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain.