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N. Korea repeats call for ending Seoul-Washington military drills

All Headlines 15:03 August 18, 2015

SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea repeated its demand Tuesday for South Korea and the United States to suspend their ongoing joint military drills, calling them a "blatant" provocation against the North.

South Korea and the U.S. kicked off their annual joint military drills on Monday, which Pyongyang has denounced as a war rehearsal for an invasion of the North. The North called the military exercises a "declaration of war."

"If the joint military drills are suspended, thereby setting the stage for reconciliation between the two Koreas, families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War can naturally meet together," the North's Rodong Sinmun, the communist party's official newspaper, said in its commentary.

The current atmosphere on the peninsula is tense, after a land mine explosion blamed on the North in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) earlier this month.

Seoul has urged Pyongyang to apologize for the incident that seriously injured two South Korean soldiers, but the North denied its role in the blasts Friday.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

President Park Geun-hye said during her speech on Liberation Day that South Korea will send the North a list of about 60,000 families for possible reunions with their relatives in North Korea. It is not immediately clear if the North will accept it.

She also stressed the need to set up a peace park in the DMZ and restore a disconnected inter-Korean railway to promote peace and reconciliation on the peninsula.

"How can it be possible to have the family reunions when the smell of gunpowder lingers due to the military drills for a nuclear war? How will it be possible for a peace park to match the dreary sight of confrontation?" the paper said.


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