N. Korea urges US, South to scrap joint drills

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea on Friday warned the United States and South Korea against going ahead with joint war games this month, calling them a rehearsal for nuclear war.

The annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, aimed at testing combat readiness for a North Korean invasion, is scheduled to begin August 18.

Although largely played out on computers, it involves tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops.

In a statement the National Peace Committee of Korea, a state propaganda body, warned the "US and puppet warmongers" not to test North Korea's patience and to call off the "provocative nuclear war manoeuvres" immediately.

It also threatened "powerful ultra-modern precision" strikes against US military bases in South Korea and elsewhere.

North Korea has always protested against the staging of joint military drills in the South, but usually to little avail.

South Korea's defence ministry on Friday rejected the complaint and said the Ulchi exercise would go ahead as planned.

"North Korea's military threats and rhetoric are going too far these days," ministry spokesman Wee Yong-Sub said.

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