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All eyes are on Pyongyang as the US leads maneuvers in the Sea of Japan.
South Korean media said the drills and Clinton's visit, which included a highly symbolic visit to the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas, had taken on added significance in light of China's apparent acceptance of Pyongyang's version of events surrounding the Cheonan tragedy.
"South Korea and the U.S. have no choice but to hold these talks and launch joint military exercises to prevent further provocations while sending a clear message to the North and China that peace and stability must be maintained on the Korean peninsula at all costs," the Chosun Ilbo said.
But the newspaper warned that the region could be entering a period of dangerous instability.
"If China seeks to bolster its alliance with North Korea after witnessing the show of support between South Korea and the U.S., the peninsula could once again become the scene of a Cold War. Seoul and Washington must find a solution to that problem."