North Korea warned Saturday it would respond if the U.S. holds joint military drills next month with South Korea, contending they would hinder a recent thaw in relations between the two Koreas.
The thaw will be tested when the exercises, which were suspended for the duration of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, start in late March or early April.
A South Korean presidential security adviser said this week the joint exercises are set to begin in early April, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
North Korea, whose official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, has repeatedly described the drills as a threat.
"If the U.S. finally holds joint military exercises while keeping sanctions on the DPRK, the DPRK will counter the U.S. by its own mode of counteraction and, the U.S. will be made to own all responsibilities for the ensuing consequences," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said in a commentary.
The U.S. announced on February 23 it was imposing its most sweeping set of sanctions on North Korea in an effort to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear and long-range missile development programs.
South Korea plans to send a special envoy to North Korea in response to an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone call Thursday.
The Olympic Games in Pyeongchang last month presented the two Koreas with the opportunity to engage after tensions between them had escalated over the North's missile program.