North urges South to halt mudslinging, military drills

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North urges South to halt mudslinging, military drills

In a conciliatory move just a day after it test-launched two short-range ballistic missiles, North Korea proposed yesterday that Seoul stop all “hostile acts” and urged it to scrap planned joint military exercises with the United States in August.

The official Korean Central News Agency released a statement in the name of the National Defense Commission - a powerful decision-making body chaired by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un - demanding that South Korea halt all “psychological warfare” starting July 4, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the July 4 South-North Joint Communique by South Korean President Park Chung Hee and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in 1972.

As part of the proposal, the commission also called upon Seoul to cancel the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, scheduled from mid to late-August, ahead of the upcoming Incheon Asian Games in September.

Pyongyang has officially announced that it will send its national team players to the games.

“We appeal [to South Korea] to make a policy-making decision halting all kinds of slander, mudslinging and other psychological warfare against each other, starting at midnight on July 4,” the statement read in its Korean dispatch.

“We once again propose the South express its sincere position on securing peace in the country by stopping all hostile military acts that occur continuously near confrontational frontlines, including in the waters around a series of forefront islands in the Yellow Sea.”

“Along with this move, we call [on South Korea] to immediately cancel its plans to hold the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the joint military drills slated with the United States in August … in order to create an atmosphere for various interaction and contact between North and South Korea, including the Incheon Asian Games.”

The proposal came just a day after Pyongyang test-fired two ballistic projectiles, assumed by Seoul to be Scud missiles, on Sunday toward international waters in the East Sea.

The launch, which came without warning, precluded the much-anticipated visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul on July 3 and 4, during which he and South Korean President Park Geun-hye are expected to discuss the denuclearization of North Korea.

“We are analyzing the intention of the proposal from the North,” a South Korean government official told reporters yesterday.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]



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