Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Pyongyang calls for the cancellation of war game

AFP , SEOUL

North Korea demanded yesterday the cancellation of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea scheduled for next month, which it described as a "preliminary war" against the Stalinist state.

The 12-day military exercise, codenamed Ulchi Focus Lens, will begin on Aug. 18.

"The joint exercises are a test war, a preliminary war against the DPRK [North Korea] from A to Z in view of its nature, content and scale," said Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of North Korea's ruling communist Workers' Party.

"They are fraught with increasing danger as they are slated to take place under the touch-and-go situation on the Korean Peninsula."

The US-South Korean combined forces command (CFC) said last week the war games were a deterrent.

"CFC's preparedness is an effective deterrent to external aggression and serves as the foundation for diplomatic efforts to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula through dialogue," the joint command said in a statement.

However, Rodong Sinmun linked the excercises to charges that Washington was mounting a blockade of North Korea to lay siege to the regime.

"The adventurous moves to stifle the DPRK by force pushed forward by the US in all aspects compel the DPRK to take strong countermeasures," the newspaper said in an editorial carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

In a separate dispatch, KCNA denounced US war preparations under a new Pentagon war scenario it said was codenamed "operation plan 5030."

"The reckless military moves of the US self-expose that its oft-repeated 'peaceful solution to the nuclear issue of North Korea' is no more than a fig leaf to cover up its moves to invade the DPRK by force," KCNA said.

It said Pyongyang had been flexible by offering bilateral talks to resolve the crisis followed by multilateral talks, adding Washington had rejected the offer.

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