Donald Trump's threatened 'armada' still far away from the Korean Peninsula

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to the media during a shared press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following their talks in Moscow Russia Wednesday

CNN also cited unidentified defense officials as saying that the group would participate in naval exercises with the Australian navy south of Singapore before heading to Korea, and is expected to arrive off the Korean Peninsula at the end of the month.

The embarrassing saga began when Adm. Harry Harris, who heads U.S. Pacific Command, initially announced in a news release April 8 that he had directed the Carl Vinson carrier strike group to "sail north" from Singapore, adding that the ships were being diverted from planned port visits to Australia.

White House officials told the Times that the military's Pacific Command made the announcement prematurely, and the mistake was repeated later by defence secretary Jim Mattis.

For more than a week, media reports in the USA and around Asia routinely have mentioned the approach of the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, seemingly implying an attack on North Korea could be imminent.

A Reuters reporter covering the Pentagon first reported April 9 that the Vinson strike group was headed toward the Korean peninsula, citing an unnamed US official.

Tensions with North Korea have recently escalated, as the rogue Asian nation has continued to test ballistic missiles and is believed to be the stages of another nuclear test. President Trump said April 11, "We are sending an armada, very powerful".

The White House gave no immediate comment.

It did not conduct a nuclear weapons test or attempt an attack on South Korea or Japan, which might have prompted a military crisis.

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun cited "multiple sources" within their country's government which said China and Russian Federation had dispatched vessels to chase the USS Carl Vinson, The Independent reported.

Officials did, however, flatly deny reports that three USA carrier strike groups were being directed to mass off the Korean peninsula in a few weeks.

"We are sending an armada".

"There's a lot of economic and political pressure points that I think China can utilize", said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Given that the Sunda Strait and the Sea of Japan are over 5,600km apart, the ships will not be where it was said they would be earlier than the beginning of next week. Off the record, several officials expressed wonderment at the persistent reports that the Vinson was already nearing Korea.

This Saturday marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, "eternal president" of North Korea, and grandfather of Kim Jong-un.

But soon after the Pacific Command statement, U.S. military officials clarified to CNN that the strike group would first complete a previously scheduled military exercise with the Australian navy.

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