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US, S Korea urge North to end ‘nuclear activities, provocation’

The United States and South Korea have called on North Korea to halt its nuclear activities and put an end to its ‘military provocations.’

American and South Korean defense chiefs urged Pyongyang on Monday to immediately cease all activities related to its nuclear program and said they will have no tolerance for any further military provocation by Pyongyang, Reuters reported.

Ashton Carter and Han Min-koo also expressed “grave concern” over the North’s intent to conduct long-range missile launch and a nuclear test, according to a joint statement issued after they held talks.

“Both are stark reminders that North Korea is an up-close, dangerous and continuing threat to the security of the peninsula and the region,” Carter told a news conference with Han, referring to the heavily armed border between the two Koreas and a 2010 attack against a South Korean navy ship.

North Korea denies any role in the sinking of the Cheonan, which Seoul blames on Pyongyang.

“The minister and the secretary reaffirmed that any North Korean aggression or military provocation is not to be tolerated,” the statement added.

North Korea has vowed to conduct nuclear tests and continue the launch of what it says is a rocket to put a satellite into orbit.

Carter and Han met in Seoul on Monday in an annual review of their joint defense readiness against the North and to discuss operational command of their joint forces in case tensions with North Korea escalate into a war.

The meeting came two months after North and South Korea resolved a military standoff that had threatened to escalate into live conflict after exchanging artillery fire across their Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) border.

The two ministers also agreed to boost cooperation in space and cyberspace to improve the security of critical infrastructure, including information and space systems, the joint statement said. They also agreed on a plan for the transfer of operation control of their combined troops in case of war as Seoul improves its readiness with better capabilities. There were no details available about the plan.

The United States has around 28,500 troops in South Korea.

North Korea accuses US of plotting with regional allies to topple its government. Pyongyang says it will not relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless the US ends its hostile policy toward North Korea and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.

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