North Korea Vows ‘Sacred War’ in Response to US-South Korea Maneuvers

Posted February 25th, 2012 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
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North Korea has threatened to launch a “sacred war” if South Korea and the United States go ahead with annual military exercises set to begin Monday.

In a statement Saturday, the North's National Defense Commission said the maneuvers are, in essence a “silent declaration of war” that will prompt a “corresponding physical retaliation” by Pyongyang. The statement called the war games “an outright challenge to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and an explicit act of destruction.”

South Korea and the U.S. regularly hold military exercises to bolster their readiness against a possible North Korean invasion. Still, the North routinely denounces military drills in the South as rehearsals for invasion.

But hours later, there was no mention of the fresh threats from the North at a news conference in Seoul by U.S. and South Korean officials.

U.S. envoy Glyn Davies, who briefed the South Koreans on his two days of talks in Beijing with North Korean officials, called those discussions serious and in-depth, but that another round is not planned.

“We will see where we go from here but it was a good beginning with the new government in the DPRK .

This was the first round of U.S.-North Korean talks since North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un, succeeded his father Kim Jong Il, who died in December.

Davies said earlier he was encouraged by Pyongyang's willingness to resume the dialogue and eager to see whether the change of leadership has affected the North's position.

The diplomacy is aimed at getting Pyongyang to fulfill its commitments to halt its controversial nuclear programs. China has been pushing for a resumption of stalled six-party talks.