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North Korea calls for better ties with neighbour

World

Seoul -

North Korea issued another call on Monday for a lowering of military tensions with South Korea, even as leader Kim Jong-un oversaw firing drills on an island near the sensitive maritime border.

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FILE - In this July 27, 2013 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leans over a balcony and waves to Korean War veterans cheering below at the end of a mass military parade on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. North Korea’s announcement that it is mass producing a home-grown smartphone has been met with skepticism in the tech industry. The North’s state media early August, 2013, showed leader Kim Jong Un inspecting “Arirang” phones at a Pyongyang factory. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

A government statement carried by the official KCNA news agency said it was time to end “reckless hostility and confrontation” and called on Seoul to scrap its annual joint military drills with the United States.

Last week, the North's top military body had called for both sides to halt all hostile military activities - a suggestion Seoul dismissed as “nonsensical” in the light of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

The latest offer is also likely to receive short shrift, as South Korea has repeatedly made it clear that the annual joint drills are non-negotiable.

North Korea makes periodic peace proposals which are mostly seen as rhetorical devices for international consumption.

The latest statement came as Kim continued a tour of front-line islands with a visit to an islet in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) where, according to KCNA, he watched a firing drill.

On Saturday, Kim had monitored an apparently large-scale army, navy and air force exercise involving a mock assault on a South Korean island. - Sapa-AFP

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