North Korea has lashed out at the South over recent “provocative” military drills, while leader Kim Jong-un sends a message of congratulation to China’s president for his success in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
A North Korean military representative said on Friday that Seoul’s war games, conducted on Wednesday, were a “grave provocation” that demands an appropriate response from Pyongyang, according to a statement carried by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“The recent drill served as an opportunity which awakened us once again to the obvious fact that the enemies remain enemies all the time,” it said.
“Such reckless move of the military warmongers of the south side is the height of the military confrontation which would leave tongue-tied even their master,” it added.
It said that the relations were “now going back to the starting point before the north-south summit meeting in 2018.”
North Korea has been involved in diplomacy with the South since 2018. The rapprochement between the long-time rivals led to diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang, with Seoul acting as a broker.
Pyongyang has accused Seoul of failing to carry out agreements reached between the two Koreas and harming relations by depending on the United States in resolving inter-Korean issues.
The South’s President Moon Jae-in and Kim had already pledged to work toward peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
However, the North and South involved in a new wave of tensions after the exchange of gunfire on the border on Sunday.
Pyongyang started diplomacy with the US as well in 2018. But negotiations have ground to a halt since the collapse of a second summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim last February in Vietnam — where Trump refused to accept a proposal for bilateral action and left the talks.
In his New Year speech this year, Kim called off a two-year ban on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests — previously agreed upon in talks with the US.
He made the decision after months of repeated calls on Washington to ease the sanctions imposed on his country over the missile and nuclear programs.
A Washington-based think tank said in a report on Tuesday that the North has a facility big enough for its “ballistic missile operations.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the facility, along with an underground structure built near it, have the capacity to accommodate North Korea’s largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
In a separate development, KCNA said Kim had sent a verbal message to the Chinese president Xi Jinping.
The North Korean leader, “in his message extended his warm greetings to Xi Jinping and congratulated him, highly appreciating that he is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic,” it added.
Kim wished Xi good health adding that relations between Pyongyang and Beijing were “firmly consolidated”.