The United States said on Friday that South Korea has the right to exercise its military in the Korean Peninsula and North Korea should not consider this routine as “provocative actions.”
“We recognize that South Korea is a sovereign country. It has a right to exercise its military as it sees fit, exercise are routine in nature, do not pose a threat to North Korea … and North Korea should not use any future exercise as justification to undertake further provocative actions,” said State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley in a press briefing.
“It is hard to see how a routine live-fire exercise, which have been held in the past, poses any kind of threat to North Korea. In fact, it does not,” he added.
North Korea threatened on Friday to retaliate with force if South Korea goes ahead with a planned live-fire exercise on the Yeonpyeong island, which was hit by North Korea during an airstrike on November 23 killing four people.
Crowley noted that “a country has every right to train and exercise its military in its own self-defense. These are activities that have, and should there be a live-fire exercise in the coming days, fully contained within South Korea’s territory.”
“North Korea should not use any future legitimate training exercises as justification to undertake further provocative actions,” he added.
Crowley affirmed that “nobody wants to see a further escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula. We are in touch with South Korea. We are closely monitoring ongoing events. But at its heart, South Korea has a legitimate right to train its military as it sees fit.” “We are absolutely concerned about the current trajectory,” he added.
Deputy Secretary of State James went to Beijing to consult with Chinese officials while US Ambassador to Moscow John Beyrle met earlier today with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Borodavkin to discuss North Korea among other issues.
“Clearly, we are concerned about events and North Korean provocations. We want to see tensions reduced. We have clearly called on North Korea to do that. We want to see other countries, including China, Russia and others, send a clear message to North Korea to cease its provocations,” he concluded.