Magazine article Business Asia

US Urges Pyongyang to Stay on Peace Path

Magazine article Business Asia

US Urges Pyongyang to Stay on Peace Path

Article excerpt

US Defence Secretary William Cohen has urged North Korea to stay on its new path of engagement as his South Korean counterpart noted Pyongyang had conducted unusually extensive military exercises this winter.

Speaking at a news conference winding up his 10-day Asian tour, Cohen said North Korea was unpredictable.

"But I would point out that with so many countries reaching out to North Korea -- to look at assisting them in dealing with some of their internal problems -- it would be contrary to North Korean interests to consider military action against the South," Cohen said.

"We must always remain vigilant and prepared and have a strong deterrent, as we do, and to send a signal to the North that it would be contrary to their interests other than to pursue the path of peace."

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armed truce that has yet to be replaced by a peace agreement.

South Korean Defence Minister Cho Seong Tae told the news conference that North Korea had conducted "unusually extensive military exercises" since last June's clash between the rival Korean navies in the Yellow Sea.

Several North Korean vessels were damaged or sunk in the clash near their contested sea border in the first such naval engagement since the Korean War ended.

"Although North Korea has shown its softer side, by holding US-North Korea talks ... we have to be always alert to the North Korean threat," Cho said. …

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