News / Asia

    US Warns North Korea Against Aggravating Tensions

    The United States Friday warned North Korea against aggravating regional tensions after Pyongyang declared a no-sail warning for waters off its western coast. Similar warnings in the past have preceded North Korean missile tests.

    The State Department is cautioning North Korea against provocative actions after its no-sail warning to international shipping, which coincided with observances Friday of the 60th anniversary of the Korean war.

    At a news briefing State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said he could not comment on whether U.S. intelligence had detected missile-launch preparations or other military activity related to the shipping advisory.

    But he said the notice is of concern to South Korea and Japan, among others, and that North Korea should refrain from actions that aggravate tensions.

    In a prepared statement on the war anniversary, Crowley said the partnership between the United States and South Korea forged in the 1950s conflict is stronger than ever.

    He said while there is no difference between the capabilities of the people on either side of the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea, the differences in governance and economic growth are compelling, with the South Korean economy now six times the size of its neighbor.

    He called it a tragedy that North Korea is, for all intents and purposes an economic basket case and that it is time for Pyongyang to admit its failures rather than to blame others including the United States.

    "It is time for North Korea to accept full accountability and responsibility for what has transpired in the past six decades, rather than presenting a preposterous bill to the United States of what? $65 trillion? As we've said and stressed many, many times, there is a choice that is available to North Korea. It has been there for some time. If it chooses a constructive path, it can envision and anticipate more normal and constructive relations with its neighbors," he said.

    North Korea raised the huge compensation demand in an official media commentary on Thursday, saying it based the calculation on, among other things the number of North Korean civilians killed in the war and the cost of sanctions and other international penalties in ensuing decades.

    Spokesman Crowley said North Korea has faced sanctions for only one reason, the behavior of the Pyongyang government.

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