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N Korea threatens military attack to war games

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A file photo.

SEOUL (AFP): North Korea Tuesday threatened a military response to ongoing US-South Korean war games, as Seoul's leader called for talks with Pyongyang to erase the peninsula's Cold War legacy.

The annual drills which began Monday follow a year of high tensions marked by two deadly border incidents which the South blames on its neighbour.

The US and South Korea say the exercises south of the border are routine and defencive in nature, but Pyongyang calls them a rehearsal for a nuclear attack.

The North's foreign ministry said "physical counter-action" by its armed forces was "inevitable" for what it called "self-defence", in a statement carried by the communist state's official news agency.

Pyongyang said it had pursued dialogue but the opportunity was fading.

"The US should be wholly accountable for all the consequences to be entailed by its military provocations. The DPRK is ready for both dialogue and confrontation," it said.

The comments were the latest in a series blasting the exercises. On Sunday the North's military vowed to turn Seoul into a "sea of flames" in the event of any provocation.

The army has also threatened to open fire on a tourist site at Imjingak in the South, to halt future launches of propaganda leaflets across the heavily fortified border.

Recent leaflets have reportedly mentioned the fate of longstanding despotic rulers in North Africa. The North's Kim dynasty has ruled the nation since its founding in 1948.

South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak said meanwhile his country "is ready to engage in dialogue with the North anytime with an open mind".

Lee, in a speech marking a 1919 campaign for independence against Japanese colonisers, said it was time to sweep away the "legacy of the Cold War" and for the North to join a new wave of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia.

"There is no reason for South Korea not to help our compatriots in the North when it is helping many other countries," Lee said.

"The North should step forward for serious dialogue and cooperation and refrain from developing nuclear weapons and missiles."

But Lee also repeated calls for Pyongyang to take "responsible measures" on past provocations.

The South accuses the North of torpedoing a warship in March 2010 near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the loss of 46 lives, a charge it denies.


N Korea  S Korea  US  War games  
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