U.S. commander visits S. Korean island shelled by DPRK

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Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the U.S. Forces stationed in Seoul, visited Friday a South Korean island shelled by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) earlier this week as tension rises ahead of the military drills by Seoul and Washington.

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His trip to the border island of Yeongpyeong came two days before South Korea and the U.S. launch four-day naval drills in the Yellow Sea.

The general commands some 28,500 troops stationed in the country following the 1950-53 Korean War.

He reaffirmed in a statement issued Wednesday his commitment to defending South Korea, a key U.S. ally.

The upcoming drills, which Seoul and Washington said will be " defensive in nature," will mobilize the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other U.S. navy ships including the USS Cowpens, USS Shiloh, USS Stethem and USS Fitzgerald.

The DPRK warned of "a shower of dreadful fire" against the joint exercises.

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