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South Korea-U.S. military drills get different interpretations

03-04-2011 07:41 BJT

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The latest South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises code-named "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" beginning Monday has got different interpretations from the north and south parts of the Korean Peninsula and their close neighbor Japan.


A Foreign Ministry spokesman for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Tuesday that counter-measures by the Korean People's Army (KPA) for legitimate self-defence was becoming more and more "inevitable." The opportunity of dialogue and the easing of tensions is "disappearing."

This tough stance came after a failed preliminary military talks in early February on holding a high-level military talks to discuss pending military issues on the divided Korean Peninsula.

Resorting to military drills despite Pyongyang's persistent calls for dialogue since January is likely to be taken by the North as a challenge to its goodwill and patience.

The inter-Korean relations had been aggravated last year following the sinking of a South Korean warship Cheonan and shelling of a bordering Yeonpyeong Island, which South Korea blamed on Pyongyang.

DPRK Foreign Minister spokesman said in a statement Tuesday that the ongoing South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises proved again that their anti-DPRK policy has remained unchanged, the official KCNA news agency reported.

They tried to block the peaceful development of the DPRK, throttle its social system and piece together a triangle military alliance of the United States, Japan and South Korea to establish hegemony in this area, said the spokesman.

The joint military drills were allegedly aimed at the so-called "contingency" on the Korean Peninsula and the elimination of DPRK's nuclear weapons and missile threat. The two countries even threatened with "precision strike" against DPRK's central organs, unveiling the "offensive" and "aggressive" nature of the exercises, said an official DPRK website.

In a statement on Sunday, one day before the drills started, DPRK's military vowed to respond to the "reckless provocation" of the South with "an all-out war at any time" and counter "the nuclear and missile blackmail" with its "own nuclear deterrent" and "missile striking method," the KCNA reported.


The South Korean-U.S. Combined Forces Command, however, denied that the exercises constitute aggression and provocation against the North, arguing the exercises are "defensive in nature" and has nothing to do with the current situation on the peninsula.

The South Korean government, media and the public responded with calm to DPRK's strong-worded statements. South Korean Unification Ministry said the DPRK's reaction to the annual military drills looked similar both in form or content to what was expected over the previous years.

Situations in the conflict-prone regions near the "Northern Limit Line" and the Military Demarcation Line have remained calm since Monday. The joint Kaesong Industrial Complex bordering the demilitarized zone kept on normal production and did not seem to be affected by the drills.

The inter-Korean relations, chilled since Seoul's conservative Lee Myung-bak government took office in February 2008, worsened last year due to the sinking of Cheonan and the shelling exchange over Yeonpyeong Island.

A succession of U.S.-South Korean military exercises since then can only serve to prod the DPRK's sensitive nerve and further aggravate the tensions on the peninsula.

But some South Korean media and analysts believed that although the drills are likely to trigger temporary worsening of tension, the door for dialogue remains open.

In a speech delivered on Tuesday, President Lee Myung-bak reiterated that South Korea "is ready to engage in dialogue with the North (DPRK) anytime with an open mind."

The DPRK's Foreign Ministry also issued a statement on the same day, saying it had prepared for both possibilities of dialogue and war while it would continue to protest against the joint drills.


The Japanese government has declined to comment on the ongoing drills,saying it was at each country's discretion whether to have joint military drills with another nation for national defense, Deputy Foreign Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima told the press Wednesday.

However, Japan does work with the United States and South Korea as it sees appropriate, such as sending observers to the military drills, he said.

He said Japan is closely watching the evolving situation in Northeast Asia and stands for peace and stability in the region.

Asked whether the upcoming military drills with the United States were related to the South Korea-U.S. military exercises, Sobashima said the decision was made by Japan's defense authorities in line with country's defense needs.

He said Japan's military exercises, whether involving the United States or not, had been held when necessary within appropriate limits.

Kyodo News reported earlier that Japan and the United States will hold a four-day exercise on simulated ballistic missile interception on an unspecified date.



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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