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DPRK warns ROK and US over drills

Updated: 2014-01-16 09:45
( Agencies)

SEOUL - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has demanded the Republic of Korea and the United States halt their annual military drills due in February and March, saying they were a direct provocation to Pyongyang, in a statement that suggested a re-run of a sharp escalation in tensions last year.

In 2013, Pyongyang said it would retaliate against any hostile moves by striking at the United States, Japan and the ROK, triggering a military buildup on the Korean peninsula and months of fiery rhetoric.

The DPRK has regularly charged that annual drills such as "Key Resolve" and "Ulchi-Freedom-Guardian" staged by the ROK and United States are a prelude to invasion.

"We sternly warn the US and the ROK's authorities to stop the dangerous military exercises which may push the situation on the peninsula and the north-south ties to a catastrophe," state news agency KCNA quoted a body in charge of the North's efforts to promote Korean unification as saying.

Similar rhetoric from the DPRK set the ROK, the United States and Japan on edge a year ago. As a result, Washington flew Stealth bomber missions over Seoul and strengthened its military presence in the South.

Analysts say the DPRK cannot risk igniting a conventional military conflict it would almost certainly lose.

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