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SEOUL -- The combined forces of the Republic of Korea and the United States planned to launch four-day preliminary drills on Tuesday ahead of their major combined exercise set to begin next week, according to Yonhap news agency. The ROK-led crisis management drills would be conducted from Tuesday to Friday, aimed at practicing procedures to respond to possible pre-war crisis scenarios. The preparatory drills would be conducted in the run-up to the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise, a newly-named summertime military exercise between the two allies involving field maneuvers. ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement on

Beijing accuses the group of pushing independence for the island it claims as its own.China has said it is blacklisting seven Taiwan officials over their alleged support for the self-ruled island’s independence. The group will be banned from entering mainland China and the territories of Hong Kong and Macau, and restricted from working with Chinese officials, state news agency Xinhua said, citing a spokesperson from the Taiwan Work Office of the ruling Communist Party. The seven officials targeted by Beijing include Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s representative in the United States. Xinhua said the “punitive measures” were necessary to “safeguard the peaceful

Young Pakistanis show their pride in the nation at Independence Day celebrations in Karachi, the country"s largest city, on Sunday. AKHTAR SOOMRO/REUTERS ISLAMABAD-While driving along the colorfully lit streets of Islamabad on the eve of Pakistan's Independence Day, Farwa Batool was brimming with joy and love for her country as she sang along with the patriotic songs heard around her. "My family and I are so excited to celebrate the day ... We all donned our special green and white dresses matching our national flag to show our love for our homeland," said Batool. "On every Independence Day, patriotism is