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Seoul urges Pyongyang not to resort to provocation

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Seoul: South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday urged North Korea not to resort to any provocation as a joint war game with the US kicked off.

Moon told a cabinet meeting that the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) is an annually-held joint military exercise that is defensive in nature, saying South Korea has no intention to escalate military tension on the Korean Peninsula, Xinhua reported.

The UFG computer-assisted simulation exercise began earlier in the day, mobilising about 17,500 US soldiers and 50,000 South Korean troops. The US-South Korea joint war game would last till the end of this month.

Moon said North Korea should neither distort South Korea’s efforts to maintain peace nor indulge in provocative acts, which worsen situations, under the pretext of this exercise.

North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) twice in July. It was followed by a war of words between Pyongyang and Washington, which escalated tension on the peninsula.

It was not known whether the US forces would mobilise strategic assets such as nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and nuclear-capable bombers for the UFG war game.

Moon said North Korea had not stopped its efforts to advance its nuclear and missile technologies, even as the international community strengthened pressure and sanctions on Pyongyang.

IANS

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