News / Asia

    N. Korea Warns Against War Games in Rare News Conference

    North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong speaks at a press conference held at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, China, Jan. 29, 2014.
    North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong speaks at a press conference held at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, China, Jan. 29, 2014.
    VOA News
    North Korea's ambassador to China warned South Korea and the United States Wednesday against upcoming joint military drills on the peninsula.
     
    In a rare news briefing in Beijing, Ambassador Ji Jae Ryong told selected journalists that Pyongyang is committed to denuclearization. But he said the North wants South Korea and the United States to compromise on the annual drills, which last year sparked heightened tensions and threats of nuclear war from Pyongyang.
     
    “This time, we once again suggest that South Korea stop immediately without questions, all hostile military actions with foreign powers which opposes people of their same nationality,” Ji said. “Facing this, I pointed out that South Korea should make up their political mind to stop so-called defensive annual joint-military exercises such as the Key Resolve and Foal Eagles [drills] starting from the end of February."
     
    Washington and Seoul have said the drills, which are one of the largest such military exercises conducted each year, will go forward.
     
    The North routinely denounces the annual drills that occur around March as a prelude to an invasion. Seoul and Washington say they are primarily focused on honing defensive capabilities.  
     
    Lu Chao, director of the North and South Korea research center at China's Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said  Wednesday's news briefing was a way for North Korea to amplify its warning over the drills.
     
    “Statements by the National Defense Commission carry much authority within North Korea,” Lu said. “At the moment, the South has not responded positively to the proposal, and that is why the North is increasing publicity on it.”
     
    The North frequently issues public statements that mix threats with more conciliatory gestures, making it difficult to discern whether Pyongyang is ratcheting up tensions. Lu said Wednesday’s briefing was no exception.
     
    “Just looking at one statement is difficult to tell what measures North Korea will take in the future, and whether it will carry on provocative actions against the South.”
     
    Last year, in a sequence of events that analysts say highlighted the unpredictable nature of the North's regime, leader Kim Jong Un made appeasing comments about wanting to improve relations with the South but shortly afterward he ordered a nuclear test in defiance of U.N. resolutions.
     
    South Korea was more upfront in advocating for its right to hold drills, and said it will continue the military exchange as long as the North continues to develop nuclear arms.
     
    Ambassador Ji also said the North agrees to restarting the six party talks, a series of multilateral negotiations aimed at resolving tensions in the peninsula.

    The talks stalled in 2009, after the North had already agreed to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs in exchange for aid and security guarantees.
     
    As a precondition for resuming negotiations, the United States has asked that Pyongyang take verifiable steps to dismantle its nuclear program. So far, the North has refused.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: rick from: san francisco CA
    January 29, 2014 9:05 PM
    They will do nothing! If they launch any attack on the US or any of its allies, they will get "a full retaliatory response" that President Kennedy mentioned in 1962, and suffer total annihilation. AND THEY KNOW IT!

    by: Max from: South Africa
    January 29, 2014 4:05 PM
    Millitary drills between US and South Korea are not aimed at North Korea as it claims. US has conducted drills with many countries and not provoking neigbours.It is doing this in case of eventualities.And it doesn't pinpoint a country as a target.N Korea must come to join the world community. It must comply with UN on nuclear and US drills with S Korea mustn't be an excuse to defy UN on nuclear production.

    by: MikeBarnett from: USA
    January 29, 2014 2:44 PM
    The main problem is that a legal state of war exists with the US and South Korea on one side against North Korea on the other side. The Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. In any military maneuvers, large numbers of troops are in motion. If those maneuvers are conducted within artillery range of North Korean forces, North Korea has a legitimate reason to fire on the maneuvering troops because they represent a possible threat for overrunning the North Korean forces. One logical solution would be to conduct the exercises far from North Korea's artillery, and the exercises merely need similar terrain that can be found in other parts of the Korean Peninsula. A more logical solution would be to negotiate, sign, and ratify a peace treaty to end this war after 63.5 years.

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