Saturday 24 March 2018

Korea on brink of war, says North

US military in show of solidarity with the South

By Peter Foster in Beijing

All morning North Korean state television and radio blared out martial music

America is bringing the Korean peninsula "to the brink of War", North Korea warned yesterday as tension continued to build.

The latest broadside from the regime of Kim Jong-il was issued as a US carrier battle group led by the USS George Washington headed towards the Yellow Sea in a show of deterrent force ahead of a four-day exercise with South Korea starting this weekend.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war," warned the Korean Central News Agency. "Gone are the days when verbal warnings are served only."

All morning North Korean state television and radio blared out martial music interspersed with official statements about the shelling of South Korean's Yeonpyeong island on Tuesday which left four people dead.

China's foreign ministry also warned against any "unilateral military act" near its coastline. Beijing has refused to condemn the attack, a move which was met with anger in Seoul, particularly after China cancelled a visit by Yang Jiechi, its foreign minister.

The US confirmed the exercises would go ahead. In a show of solidarity with Seoul, General Walter Sharp, the American military commander in South Korea, visited the shelled island and repeated his statement that the attack violated the ceasefire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

President Lee Myung-bak appointed his security adviser Lee Hee-Won as his new defence minister following the resignation of the previous incumbent, who was heavily criticised over the South's response to the attack.

In a sign of the rising tensions, there was brief panic in Seoul when television reported sounds of artillery fire near the shelled island, Yeonpyeong. However, an official later said no new shells had landed in South Korean territory. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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