North Korea blamed the United States and South Korea for tensions on the Korean peninsula and warned once again against upcoming joint military drills.
At a rare news conference Wednesday in Beijing, North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong described the drills as "hostile military actions."
"For this we again propose immediately and unconditionally halting all military and hostile acts involving fellow countrymen [South Koreans] in collusion with outsiders [the United States], and request that the South Korean authorities take the crucial decision of canceling Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises which they planned to stage from the end of February under the pretext of annual and defensive drills," said Ji.
Washington and Seoul said the exercises will begin next month as planned, despite the repeated warnings from Pyongyang.
Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, said Wednesday the exercises are defensive in nature.
"That relates directly to our ability to be able to respond to any contingencies. And so we will continue, on a transparent basis, to conduct these defensive exercises so that we are ready should, God forbid, any contingency arise," said Davies.
Davies, who met with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul, said the U.S. is still looking for signs North Korea is willing to give up its nuclear weapons.
North Korea abandoned six-party nuclear talks in 2009. Washington has said the talks cannot resume unless Pyongyang shows it is willing to denuclearize.
Ji, the North Korean ambassador to China, said the first move must be made by the U.S. He claimed that Pyongyang has already "taken its seat on the boat for the six-party talks," and is waiting for other countries to join.
South Korea and North Korea remain in a technical state of war, since the 1953 agreement that ended hostilities between them was only a truce.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed across the border in South Korea, and the two sides regularly conduct military drills.