07/22/2010, 00.00
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Pyongyang rejects new sanctions, US military exercises

A spokesperson for the North Korean delegation attending an ASEAN regional forum in Hanoi slams new US sanctions against North Korea, saying joint US-South Korean military exercises are a threat to peace.
Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – New US sanctions against North Korea violates a UN statement issued after the sinking of a South Korean warship, said Ri Tong-il, spokesman for a North Korean delegation attending an ASEAN regional security forum in Hanoi.

The statement by the United Nations Security Council was issued on 9 July. It held back from directly blaming North Korea in the incident, as a report by South Korea had claimed, but it unanimously deplored the sinking of ROKS Cheonan, which claimed the lives of 46 South Korean sailors.

The North Korean official also criticised the US-South Korean joint military exercises in the region announced for next Sunday off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, saying, "The decision to hold military drills is a major danger for the security of the region”.

The White House announced yesterday that the joint South Korean-US naval exercises in the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea by Koreans, are purely defensive in nature. However, for the Unitd States, they will guarantee support for South Korea’s defence and “send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behaviour must stop.”

Conversely, “The U.S. should make concrete steps toward engaging in dialogue if it is serious about ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons,” Ri Tong-il said.

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