SEOUL (Dispatches) -- A U.S. B-1B bomber Wednesday joined large-scale U.S.-South Korean military exercises that North Korea has denounced as pushing the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war, as tension mounts between the North and the United States.
The bomber flew from the Pacific U.S.-administered territory of Guam and joined U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in the annual exercises, which run until Friday.
The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.
Asked about the bomber's flight, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing: "We hope relevant parties can maintain restraint and not do anything to add tensions on the Korean peninsula."
North Korea’s official KCNA state news agency said at the weekend that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration was "begging for nuclear war" by staging the drills.
KCNA said on Tuesday that the exercises in which the bomber took part are "simulating an all-out war", including drills to "strike the state leadership and nuclear and ballistic rocket bases, air fields, naval bases and other major objects."
U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday urged the Pentagon to start moving U.S. military dependents, such as spouses and children, out of South Korea, saying conflict with North Korea was getting close.
The U.S.-South Korea drills coincide with a rare visit to the North by UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk met Feltman on Wednesday in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and discussed bilateral cooperation and other issues of mutual interest, KCNA said.
Feltman, a former senior U.S. State Department official, is the highest-level UN official to visit North Korea since 2012. The State Department said on Tuesday he was not carrying any message from Washington.
China and Russia had proposed that the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs.