News / Asia

North Korea Vows 'Sacred War' in Response to US-South Korea Joint Drills

South Korean navy sailors in a speed boat patrol around South Korea's western Yeonpyong Island after finishing their exercise, near the disputed sea border with North Korea, February 20, 2012.
South Korean navy sailors in a speed boat patrol around South Korea's western Yeonpyong Island after finishing their exercise, near the disputed sea border with North Korea, February 20, 2012.

Just a day after concluding talks in Beijing with an American envoy, North Korea is airing bellicose rhetoric about upcoming U.S.-South Korean joint war games.

North Korea is vowing a "sacred war" in response to annual joint military exercises South Korean and U.S. forces are to begin staging Monday.

The announcer, reading a statement of the National Defense Commission, says the joint maneuvers by the United States and South Korea, are, in essence, a “silent declaration of war” and will prompt a “corresponding physical retaliation” by the North.

Just hours later, there was no mention of the fresh threats at a joint news conference in Seoul by U.S. and South Korean diplomats.

U.S. envoy Glyn Davies briefed a South Korean diplomat on his talks held Thursday and Friday in Beijing with North Korean officials. The discussions were the first since North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, died in December and he was succeeded by his third son, Kim Jong Un.

Davies told reporters the two days of discussions in the Chinese capital were serious, in-depth and covered a wide range of issues but another round is not planned.

"We will see where we go from here but it was a good beginning with the new government in the DPRK [North Korea]," said Davies.

The diplomacy is aimed at getting Pyongyang to fulfill its previous commitments to halt its nuclear programs.

China has been pushing for a resumption of long-stalled six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Lim Sung-nam, the South Korean diplomat, who would head his country's delegation if those negotiations resume, says he remains optimistic about the possibility of further dialog.

Lim, speaking to reporters, says while no talks have been set between Seoul and Pyongyang for this year, he is hopeful there can be another round.

The two Koreas met twice last year. There were hopes the discussions could lead to a warming of ties on the peninsula at a time when tensions had soared to their highest level in years.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests. It is also blamed for two lethal attacks in 2010 - the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and the shelling of a frontier island near disputed waters in the Yellow Sea.

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