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S. Korean military warns of strong retaliation for North's provocation

 South Korea's military said Wednesday that it will sternly punish North Korea and its leadership if the North moves forward with provocations, responding to the communist country's warning of attacks over an annual drill by Seoul and Washington set to start next week.

   The warning came one day after the North's military threatened to scrap the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, citing tensions over South Korean-U.S. joint military exercises and warned a "precise" strike at any time. A two-month field training exercise called Foal Eagle kicked off last week and computer-simulated drills named Key Resolve will be held from March 11-21.

   In a statement, the South Korean military said that if the North provokes the South again, it will "strongly and sternly"

punish the North Korean leadership, not to mention the origin of the provocation and its supporting forces.

   "The North had already received notice that South Korea-U.S. drills are defensive in nature," said the statement read by Army Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-hyun, a senior official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a press conference.

   "If North Korea goes ahead with provocations and threatens the lives and safety of South Koreans, our military will strongly and sternly retaliate against the command and its supporting forces. We want to make it clear that (our military) has made all preparations to do that." (Yonhap News)

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