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S. Korea, U.S. launch joint military drill

08-20-2012 11:50 BJT

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the United States on Monday launched a joint exercise aimed at enhancing defense readiness against potential security threats here, military officials said.

The computer-assisted simulation exercise, dubbed Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), will mobilize some 56,000 South Korean troops and 30,000 U.S. forces.

"Ulchi Freedom Guardian is a key exercise in strengthening the readiness of Republic of Korea and U.S. forces," Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the U.S. forces stationed here, said in a statement.

"It is based on realistic scenarios and enables us to train on our essential tasks with a 'whole of government' approach," he added.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s army has been informed of the launch of the annual drill and its non- provocative nature, according to officials.

The DPRK, which is technically still at war with South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce, warned last week the joint training can lead to a "sacred war".

Kim Jong Un, top leader of the DPRK, inspected a front-line artillery unit days before Seoul and Washington are to launch their annual joint exercises, state media reported on Saturday.

During his visit to the unit of the Korean People's Army (KPA) on the DRPK's border Mu Islet on the southwest front, Kim praised service members as heroes and told them never to tolerate any enemy aggression, the official news agency KCNA reported.

"If the enemy dares recklessly preempt firing and even a single shell drops on the territory of the DPRK, the KPA should lead the battle to a sacred war for national reunification, not confining it to a local war on the southwest region," Kim was quoted by the KCNA as saying.

"He also ordered it to turn the west sea into a graveyard of the invaders," the KCNA report said.

Kim, also Supreme Commander of the KPA, carefully watched Yonphyong Island from the post and expressed satisfaction over the combat posture of the detachment, according to the report.

The DPRK and South Korea exchanged fierce artillery fire near Yonphyong Island in November 2010, killing four South Koreans. Both sides accused the other of firing the first shot.

"This islet is not only the biggest hotspot on the Korean Peninsula but a very sensitive area on which world attention is focused and where the interests of many countries are intermingled, " Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim slammed the United States and South Korea for "threatening peace and stability of not only the DPRK but of the region and the rest of the world," as the two often stage provocative war drills in those waters of the sea.

The drill is scheduled to end on Aug. 31.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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