(ATTN: UPDATES with additional details, minor edits in paras 2, 5-6; RECASTS last para to correct inter-Korean communication lines were reopened in late July instead of in August as previously sent)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- The United States holds no hostile intent toward North Korea, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday, in reaction to a statement by North Korea denouncing the U.S. and South Korea over their joint military exercises.
The spokesman, Ned Price, said he had no comment on the statement issued by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, but insisted that the joint military drills are purely defensive in nature.
"First, let me reiterate that the joint military exercises are purely defensive in nature. We have made that point repeatedly and it's a very important one," the spokesman said in a press briefing.
"Second, as we have long maintained, the United States harbors no hostile intent towards the DPRK," he added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The North Korean leader' sister slammed South Korea and the U.S. for moving ahead with their summertime joint military exercise on Tuesday (Seoul time), calling it a preliminary nuclear war exercise against her country.
The statement came as South Korea and the U.S. began a preliminary exercise on Tuesday, ahead of their annual summertime joint exercise, set to be held Aug. 16-26.
"The important point for us is that they are purely defensive in nature," Price reiterated.
"More broadly, as we have said in recent weeks, we support inter-Korean dialogue. We support inter-Korean engagement, and we will continue to work with our ROK partners towards that end," he said.
ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.
North Korea earlier said holding the summertime joint military exercise will cast a cloud over inter-Korean relations.
Pyongyang did not answer daily calls from South Korea via liaison and military communication lines on Tuesday.
The reclusive state reopened the inter-Korean communication channels late last month, more than 13 months after it unilaterally severed them.
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