North Korea threatens 'merciless strike' ahead of US-South Korea military drills

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army in an unknown location in Nor

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army in an unknown location in Nor

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.

Tens of thousands of South Korean and U.S. troops are taking part in the "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" joint military drills, a largely computer-simulated exercise that runs for two weeks in the South.

The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian is a military drill which sees the USA and South Korea join forces in a string of exercises.

North Korea views such exercises as preparations for invasion and has fired missiles and taken other actions to show its anger over military drills in the past.

US President Donald Trump assured South Korea he would consult with them before making any military decisions on North Korea, according to Moon.

Just last week, Pyongyang said it had finalized a plan to fire four missiles toward the USA territory of Guam. "North Korea should not use this as a pretext for provocation".

"The Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire and worsen the state of the peninsula", the paper said.

Last year, the North test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile two days before the exercises started.

The exercises, which are largely based on computer simulations, go ahead as the Pentagon ordered a temporary halt to all naval operations around the world after another one of its warships was involved in a collision in the Singapore Strait.

In an unusual gesture, three top U. military commanders - Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris, Strategic Command head Gen. John Hyten and Missile Defence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves - will observe the command-post exercise in person, reports Yonhap News Agency. Their unusual presence was meant to reaffirm the United States' commitment to defend its ally, officials in South Korea said. Russian Federation has also asked for the drills to stop but the United States has not backed down.

The "lax enforcement" of existing sanctions and Pyongyang's "evolving evasion techniques" were undermining the United Nations goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, Kyodo quoted the report as saying.

Speaking to reporters at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the US President said: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States".

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