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DPRK urges calm to avert crisis

By Agencies in Pyongyang and Seoul | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-17 07:20

China calls for restraint as Washington, Seoul prepare to conduct military exercises

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea called on Thursday for verbal and military provocations between the two sides of the Korean Peninsula to stop, and it urged practical measures to be taken to prevent a "nuclear disaster", the official KCNA news agency reported.

The appeal was made by the National Defense Commission in a three-point "important proposal" stating that inter-Korea relations could thaw, including on issues such as the families separated by war, if the two sides make concerted efforts to implement the proposals starting on Jan 30, Lunar New Year, said the KCNA.

The commission also stressed that the DPRK still wants denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, urging the ROK to abandon "double acts" - attaching itself to the United States while denying a nuclear deterrent to its "same nation", the DPRK.

"It is high time to terminate the vicious circle between the same nations and make an amiable atmosphere," the proposal said, expecting feedback from the ROK.

The NDC has also demanded that the ROK and the US halt annual military drills scheduled for February and March, saying they were a direct provocation, a statement that suggested a re-run of a sharp escalation in tension last year.

China meanwhile called for restraint.

"All sides have a responsibility to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and this accords with all sides' interests," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday.

In 2013, the DPRK said it would retaliate against any hostile moves by striking at the US, Japan and the ROK, triggering a military buildup on the Korean Peninsula and months of fiery rhetoric.

The DPRK has regularly denounced annual drills such as "Key Resolve" and "Ulchi-Freedom-Guardian" staged by the ROK and the US as a prelude to invasion.

"We sternly warn the US and the South Korean authorities to stop the dangerous military exercises which may push the situation on the peninsula and the north-south ties to a catastrophe," the KCNA news agency quoted a body in charge of efforts to promote Korean unification as saying.

Similar bellicose rhetoric from the DPRK set the ROK, the US and Japan on edge a year ago. As a result, Washington flew stealth bomber missions over the ROK and strengthened its military presence in the ROK, where nearly 30,000 US troops are based.

The ROK said the drills were going ahead as planned, and the DPRK's military has showed no sign of unusual activity.


(China Daily 01/17/2014 page10)

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