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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Friday, September 1, 2000

North Korea: Ulchi Focus
Lens exercises 'inappropriate'

By Jim Lea
Osan bureau chief

North Korea on Wednesday called the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command’s Ulchi Focus Lens military training exercises "inappropriate" in the current atmosphere of warming relations between the two Koreas.

A spokesman for the Unification Ministry in Seoul said the complaint was aired during the South-North ministerial meeting in Pyongyang. He quoted North Korean chief delegate Jon Kum Jin as telling his Southern counterpart, Park Jae-kyu, that the exercise should not have been held "in view of ongoing efforts to implement the Joint Declaration" issued at the end of the Inter-Korean Summit in June.

The ministry spokesman said Jon made no reference to a recent threat to halt all contact with the South if the exercise was held. That threat was aired by the North’s state-operated Korean Central News Agency shortly after UFL 2000 was announced two weeks ago.

The drill, a computer-simulated command post exercise held annually since 1976, began Aug. 21 and is to end Friday.

Wednesday was the first day in the second round of ministerial talks being held to implement agreements reached in the historic Inter-Korean Summit held in Pyongyang in June. The first round of talks was held in Seoul in late July.

The ministry spokesman said that the South’s chief delegate Park — who is Seoul’s Unification Minister — on Wednesday called for a military hot line to be established and regular meetings to be held between defense ministers and military officials of the two countries.

The hot line, he said, could help reduce the possibility of "accidents triggering armed conflict" and regular meetings between defense ministers and military leaders also would lessen the possibility of war, Park said.

Another meeting was to be held Thursday and the South Korean delegation was to return to Seoul later in the day, the spokesman said.

Bae Gi-chul contributed to this report.

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