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S. Korea refutes DPRK's call to stop leaflet spread, military exercise

(Xinhua)    15:52, January 08, 2015

SEOUL, Jan. 8-- South Korea refuted the call from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday to stop anti-DPRK leaflet spread and joint military exercises with the United States.

"North Korea (DPRK) should not repeat claims inconducive to the south-north dialogue and rapidly come to the dialogue table for actual progress in inter-Korean relations," South Korea's Ministry of Unification said in a brief statement after the DPRK's National Defense Commission issued a statement condemning South Korea on Wednesday night.

The statement urged Seoul to clarify its position on South Korean civic groups floating anti-DPRK leaflets across the border and the annual joint military drills with the United States.

The commission slammed South Korean President Park Geun-hye for her comments on unification with the DPRK, which it said showed skepticism about South Korea's will to improve inter-Korean relations.

The DPRK has also demanded the stop of the joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, but Seoul has said those are annually-held drills of "defensive nature."

"As long as the (South) Korea-U.S. alliance structure exists, military exercises should persist," Defense Ministry Spokesman Kim Min-seok told a press briefing, saying that the alliance and the military forces cannot be maintained without drills.

The spokesman said the DPRK's demand "makes no sense" as the joint drills are defensive in nature. Pyongyang called the joint military exercises as a rehearsal for the northward invasion.

South Korea has made dialogue offers three times since Dec. 29, saying that it is open to all forms of dialogue to discuss issues of mutual concern.

In his New Year's speech, top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un made an apparent offer for an inter-Korean summit if the atmosphere and circumstances are formed.

Pyongyang has called on Seoul to ban civic groups from flying anti-DPRK leaflets across the border, denouncing South Korea for conniving at the leaflet campaign.

One South Korean civic group, composed mainly of DPRK defectors, floated about 600,000 anti-DPRK leaflets via balloons on Monday in regions near the western land border.

A South Korean court ruled that the government can restrict the leaflet campaign if it posts clear dangers against people living in regions near the inter-Korean border, but the ministry maintained its basic position that an activity for freedom of speech cannot be blocked by the authorities.

On Oct. 10, the DPRK military fired machine gun shots at the balloons containing anti-DPRK leaflets scattered by a conservative South Korean civic group near the western border. Residents near the border strongly opposed to such activity due to rising military tensions.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Liang Jun)

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