Monday, July 15, 2024

North Korea says drills by South Korea, US and Japan show nations have developed ‘Asian Nato’

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North Korea has criticised a joint military exercise by South Korea, Japan and the US held this month, state media has said, saying such drills show the relationship among the three countries has developed into “the Asian version of Nato”.

On Thursday, the three countries began large-scale joint military drills called “Freedom Edge” involving navy destroyers, fighter jets and the nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, aimed at boosting defences against missiles, submarines and air attacks.

The exercise was devised at the three-way summit at Camp David last year to strengthen military cooperation amid tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from North Korea’s weapons testing.

North Korea’s foreign ministry said Pyongyang would not ignore the strengthening of a military bloc led by the US and its allies and would protect regional peace with an aggressive and overwhelming response, according to the KCNA news agency on Sunday.

The ministry also said in a statement that Washington was continuing its effort to link up South Korea and Japan to Nato, adding South Korea’s attempts to supply weapons to Ukraine is one example of that effort.

South Korea said it would review the possibility of supplying arms directly to Ukraine, in protest against a recent mutual defence pact signed between the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

South Korea and the US have accused the North of supplying weapons to Russia that are being used in the Ukraine war. Both Russia and North Korea deny any such transactions.

On Saturday, North Korea’s ruling party held a key meeting on the second day, presided by Kim, who addressed “deviations” hampering economic development and laid out the focus for the second half of the year, state media said.

North Korea has long condemned joint drills between the US and South Korea as a rehearsal for invasion and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul.

Last year, the three countries staged joint naval missile defence and anti-submarine exercises to improve responses to North Korean threats.

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