North Korea warns South and US over 'provocative' drills
SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korea has demanded South Korea and the United States halt their annual military drills due in February and March, saying they were a direct provocation to Pyongyang, in a statement that suggested a re-run of a sharp escalation in tensions last year.
In 2013, Pyongyang said it would retaliate against any hostile moves by striking at the United States, Japan and South Korea, triggering a military buildup on the Korean peninsula and months of fiery rhetoric.
The reclusive North has regularly charged that annual drills such as "Key Resolve" and "Ulchi-Freedom-Guardian" staged by South Korea and United States are a prelude to invasion.
"We sternly warn the US and the South Korean authorities to stop the dangerous military exercises which may push the situation on the peninsula and the north-south ties to a catastrophe," state news agency KCNA quoted a body in charge of the North's efforts to promote Korean unification as saying.