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North Korea Says U.S.-South Korea Exercises Pose 'Danger'

The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier "USS George Washington" moves to come alongside the pier at a port in Busan, southeast of Seoul, on July 21.
A North Korean diplomat has denounced U.S. and South Korean plans to hold large-scale joint military drills, calling the exercises a "major danger for the security of the region."

Ri Tong Il, a member of the North Korean delegation at an Asian regional security forum in Vietnam, was speaking to reporters today in Hanoi.

On July 21, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States will impose new sanctions against North Korea, following the March sinking of a South Korean warship that left 46 sailors dead.

South Korea and the United States have backed the results of an international investigation that blamed North Korea for torpedoing the ship. The North has denied involvement.

Earlier on July 21, Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a rare visit to the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas. They then held talks with their South Korean counterparts.

South Korea and the United States say the exercises, which are to begin on July 25, are aimed at deterring North Korea from carrying out any future attacks on the South.

Officials say the July 25-28 U.S.-South Korean drills in the Sea of Japan will involve about 20 warships, including the 97,000-ton U.S. aircraft carrier "USS George Washington," and some 200 military planes.

compiled from agency reports