South Korea will hold military exercises with the US after any possible UN action against North Korea over its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship, the South’s military said yesterday.
Seoul has asked the UN Security Council to punish Pyongyang over the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors on board.
North Korea denies involvement and has warned any punishment would trigger war.
South Korea “will conduct the drills by linking them to the result” of possible UN Security Council action against the North, said Colonel Lee Bung-woo, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He did not elaborate on the exact timing and scale of the drills off South Korea’s western coast. The exercises were originally scheduled for last month.
Seoul’s announcement came days after China held live-fire drills off its eastern coast in what were seen as a response to the planned joint naval exercises by Washington and Seoul.
China — the North’s closest ally and a veto-wielding Security Council member — has voiced concern that the joint South Korean-US drills could prompt further rash behavior from North Korea’s isolated regime.
South Korea and the US are pushing for Security Council action against Pyongyang, but the outlook is unclear as permanent members China and Russia have yet to clearly say whether they believe North Korea was responsible for the sinking.
Also yesterday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry repeated demands that its own investigators be permitted to go to the South to verify the result of an international investigation led by South Korea that implicated the North. Seoul has rejected the North’s request.
In comments carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry also called for working-level military talks with the South to arrange high-level discussions over the issue.
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