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‘Will make them realize’: North Korea warns US, South Korea over ‘hostile acts’

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the North Korean Workers' Party Committee, meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

North Korea on Wednesday denounced South Korea for moving ahead with its plan of joint military exercise with the United States despite repeated warnings. In a statement released on state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol said that “peace and trust” touted by Seoul was a mere wordplay as they opted for an alliance with “outsiders” but not with “compatriots”.

“As we have already clarified, we will make them realize by the minute what a dangerous choice they made and what a serious security crisis they will face because of their wrong choice,” KCNA quoted Kim, a former Pyongyang’s spymaster, as saying.

South Korea and the US have begun preliminary military drills as they prepare for full-scale exercises scheduled from August 16-26, reported the Yonhap news agency. On Tuesday, South Korea said that the North didn’t answer routine calls in inter-Korean hotlines that were recently restored hotlines suspended a year ago by Pyongyang.

While Seoul and Washington insist that preliminary drills are designed to examine the allies’ readiness to respond to a potential contingency, Pyongyang sees it as confrontation. Kim said South Korea must realise “how dearly they have to pay for answering our good faith with hostile acts after letting go the opportunity for improved inter-Korean relations.”

“It is clear that there is no other option for us as South Korea and the US opted for confrontation with our state, without making any change,” he added.

North Korea has been facing sanctions from the United States over its nuclear activity and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Washington recently indicated that it is not willing to lift any sanctions as a precondition to restart talks with Pyongyang. US state department spokesperson Ned Price said last week that the Biden administration welcomes the restoration of inter-Korean communication lines and is willing to meet North Korean leaders “anytime, anywhere, without preconditions.”

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