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(LEAD) N. Korea protests against Seoul-Washington drill

All News 10:08 March 12, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS Seoul's response in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Saturday it will seek retaliation against the latest joint military drill conducted by Seoul and Washington, adding it is "waiting for the moment to punish the aggressors."

"The prevailing grave situation makes all the service personnel of the Korea People's Army (KPA) discard the patience which they have long exercised," the KPA general staff said in a statement reported by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

South Korea and the United States kicked off the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises for a weeks-long run Monday in South Korea, mobilizing some 300,000 local troops along with 17,000 U.S. forces.

Key Resolve is a two-week command post-based exercise, while Foal Eagle is an eight-week field training war game that includes the massive Ssangyong landing drill.

"The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK holding tightly the arms to annihilate the enemies with towering hatred for them are waiting for the dignified Supreme Command to issue an order to launch a preemptive strike of justice on the aggressors," the report added. The DPRK is an acronym for North Korea's official name.

Pyongyang added it plans to respond to the drills with "the operation to liberate the whole of South Korea including Seoul" with an "ultra-precision blitzkrieg."

This year's exercises of South Korea and Washington, meanwhile, will be the largest of their kind in size as they come on the heels of North Korea's surprise nuclear test in January and a long-range missile test last month.

Responding to the statement, South Korea's defense ministry urged Pyongyang to stop making threats or making further provocations.

"If the North continues to make provocations despite the stern warnings made by our military, it is inevitable for us to roll out a strict response that may lead to the destruction of the Pyongyang regime," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.


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