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North Korea threatens retaliation over U.S.-South Korea drills

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 Pyongyang on Thursday threatened a “corresponding response”, three days after South Korea and the U.S. kicked off two weeks of joint air-force drills.

US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shake hands following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un became on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

The “acts of perfidy’’ by Seoul had “greatly disappointed us’’ and represented a “military provocation,’’ a spokesman for North Korea’s reunification committee was quoted as saying by state-run news agency KCNA.

The drills are a scaled-back alternative to the huge Max Thunder drills that the U.S. and South Korea have staged every year since 2009.

The two countries have also announced the suspension of several major joint military exercises over the past year, including Foal Eagle and Key Resolve in March, as part of a diplomatic push for North Korea to denuclearise.

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Pyongyang has long viewed the exercises as a provocation and a rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea.

On Thursday, the spokesman said the changes “can never conceal the aggressive, offensive and confrontational nature of their hostile acts no matter how hard they may try to give (an) impression about ‘reduction in scope’ by replacing the code-name.

The drills were an “outright challenge’’ to the Panmunjom Declaration signed by North and South Korean leaders in 2018, he said.

“There will be a corresponding response to it from our army.’’

Tensions have been simmering between the U.S. and North Korea since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, cut short a summit in Hanoi in February, after failing to reach an agreement on denuclearisation.


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