Sunday, February 1, 2009

North Korea threatens war with South Korea

North Korea threatened war with South Korea due to their confrontational political policies. The message was clear only two days after the North vowed to abandon all peace agreements with its southern neighbor.

Relations between the pair have been strained since conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office nearly a year ago. He pledged to take a harder line on the North. Tension heightened Friday when the North said it was ditching a nonaggression pact and all other peace accords with South Korea.

The tension may lead to "an unavoidable military conflict and a war," North Korea's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

"The policy of confrontation" by the South Korean government is "the very source of military conflicts and war" between the Koreas, it said.

The North has accused Lee's government of preparing to stage a war, which South Korea denies. Earlier this month, the North's military declared it adopted an "all-out confrontational posture" to defeat any southern aggression. In its Friday statement, the North said it would no longer respect a disputed sea border with the South on the west of the peninsula, raising the prospect for a new armed clash in the area, already the scene of bloody naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002.

President Lee Myung-bak sought to downplay the statement and called it "not unusual." He indicated his government will wait until the North is ready for talks in good faith.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official said Sunday that the country's navy remains on alert along the western sea border. The official also said the ministry has not detected any unusual movements of the North Korean military. The peninsula remains divided by a heavily fortified border, with tens of thousands of troops stationed on both sides.

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