N Korea warns US over military drills with South


North Korea has threatened to “counter the US” if it holds joint military exercises with South Korea.

The US is due to start joint exercises in April, the latest in a series of drills that Pyongyang has regularly described as a threat.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said: “If the US finally holds joint military exercises while keeping sanctions on the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), the DPRK will counter the US by its own mode of counteraction and the US will be made to own all responsibilities for the ensuing consequences.”

It said the drills would harm reconciliation efforts on the peninsula.

On 23 February, the US said it was imposing its largest package of sanctions to pressure Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear and missile programmes.

Donald Trump warned of a phase two that could be “very, very unfortunate for the world” if the sanctions did not work.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un© Reuters South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un North Korea has attacked Mr Trump’s unilateral sanctions, but said it was open to talks with the US when senior officials from the isolated state visited South Korea for the Winter Olympics earlier this month.

The White House said any talks with North Korea must lead to the end of its nuclear programme.

North Korea has reiterated that it is willing to talk to the US but said it would not accept preconditions.

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman, speaking to the country’s state-run news agency, said: “We will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the US.

“Whether peace desired by our nation and the rest of the world settles on the Korean peninsula or a situation that no one desires is developed in the vicious cycle of the confrontation depends entirely on the attitude of the US.”

South Korea plans to send a special envoy to North Korea in response to an invitation from leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told President Trump in a phone call on Thursday.

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last month gave a boost to recent engagement between the two Koreas after sharply rising tensions over the North’s missile programme

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