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N. Korea demands cancellation of South-U.S. military drill

North Korea on Saturday repeated its call for the cancellation of an upcoming South Korea-U.S. military drill, saying Seoul was deliberately trying to ruin the atmosphere of dialogue on the Korean Peninsula "in collusion with outside forces."

South Korea and the U.S. plan to hold their annual joint military exercises, dubbed Ulchi Freedom Guardian, in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea. The South's defense ministry said the 11-day drills, which kick off Tuesday, will simulate destroying weapons of mass destruction.

Pyongyang's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said that the drills "prove that those forces do not want to see detente and peace on the Korean Peninsula."

"The joint military exercises against the North ... would further aggravate the already strained situation on the peninsula and increase the danger of a nuclear war," a bylined article said.

Earlier this week, the North's military delegation to the border village of Panmunjom told South Korean and U.S. authorities to cancel the planned exercises, accusing the two allies of hampering the atmosphere of dialogue and escalating tension.

South Korean forces have been on high alert in the area since a North Korean artillery attack killed four people, including two Marines, in November on Yeonpyeong Island near the tense sea border.

Last month, a senior North Korean diplomat met with U.S. officials in New York to negotiate ways to restart long-stalled international talks aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons aspirations. The New York meeting came after the Koreas' nuclear envoys met in Indonesia on the sidelines of an Asian security conference and agreed to make joint efforts to reopen the six-party talks. (Yonhap News)

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