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S. Korea sees no imminent signs of N. Korea's provocations

All Headlines 16:05 January 06, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Friday there are no imminent signs of provocations by North Korea ahead of its leader Kim Jong-un's birthday.

The North has a track record of carrying out provocative moves to mark its key anniversaries. Kim's birthday falls on Sunday this year. In 2016, Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. It also carried out its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 to mark the 68th anniversary of the establishment of its regime.

The Unification Ministry, which is in charge of inter-Korean affairs, said it has yet to detect any unusual military moves in the North.

The defense ministry also said there are no specific signs that the North is planning something, although officials here said they are keeping close tabs on the reclusive country.

"North Korea is ready to provoke at any time. We are closely monitoring every military move in the North and are fully prepared to counter all provocations," Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said in a briefing.

Kim is stepping up efforts to further consolidate his grip on power that he inherited upon the death of his father and long-time leader, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011. The current leader is the grandson of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung.

In this photo taken on Jan. 1, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers his New Year's speech at the North's ruling Workers' Party's building. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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