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North Korea blasts South for joint air force drills

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea blasts South for joint air force drills
North Korea warned of a reversal of the situation on the peninsula on Thursday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- North Korea is accusing the South of "betrayal" for recent U.S.-South Korea air force exercises ahead of the first anniversary of the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration.

Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland did not target specific South Korean politicians but cautioned the government against joint drills.

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"Through the treacherous actions of the South Korean authorities, the state of inter-Korea relations could return to the way they were before the signing of Panmunjom Declaration," the North Korean committee said.

The statement is the first of its kind in 11 months from the committee, according to South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo. It also comes after South Korean lawmakers confirmed Jang Kum Chol has replaced Kim Yong Chol as chief of the committee. Kim is the top official who met with U.S. President Donald Trump twice at the White House.

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The North Korean committee went on to say the "act of betrayal" could put inter-Korea relations in danger at a "critical period" of diplomacy on the peninsula.

South Korea is brushing off the warnings. Government officials at the presidential Blue House said organizing a fourth inter-Korea summit is to take top priority.

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"The Panmunjom Declaration is a great start, but it is only the first step toward a peaceful peninsula," said Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff.

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On Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he wants to meet Kim Jong Un as soon as possible, Newsis reported.

Moon also said he hopes a third Trump-Kim Jong Un dialogue will be realized soon, and credited the Panmunjom Declaration, which he co-signed with the North Korean leader, for the peace in the country.

"Before April 27, missile and nuclear tests greatly increased military tensions, but that tension has been eased," Moon said at a meeting of the Asia News Network, a coalition of Asian news organizations.

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Kim Jong Un concluded his first day of meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Thursday. He has yet to respond to the South's call for talks.

The joint air force drills began Monday in place of Max Thunder, one of the largest air force drills on the peninsula, according to Stars and Stripes.

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