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January 27, 2014

News Briefs January 27, 2014

North Korea says South should end drills with U.S.

North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations is again demanding that South Korea cancel its upcoming joint military exercises with the United States.

Sin Son Ho’s words echoed similar demands by the North’s National Defense Commission earlier this month, when it proposed the rivals halt military actions and mutual vilification to build better relations.

We again propose immediately and unconditionally halting all military and hostile acts targeting the fellow countrymen in collusion with outsiders, Ho said in a rare press conference.

South Korea has so far rejected the North’s offer to take a series of steps to ease tensions that include canceling the military drills, saying Pyongyang must take nuclear disarmament steps first.

The ambassador took questions but referred everyone to North Korean media and his speech for answers. AP

China warns foreign planes entering defense zone

China said Jan. 24 it has begun issuing warnings to foreign military planes entering its self-declared air defense zone over the East China Sea, an indication of its determination to follow through on a measure already blamed for raising tensions in the region.

State media quoted air force spokesman Shen Jinke as saying that multiple types of Chinese planes recently conducted a long-range patrol inside the sweeping zone that was declared in November.

Shen said the Chinese planes identified a number of foreign military aircraft, flew alongside them and issued warnings to them. He didn’t identify the planes or say when the patrol was conducted.

The U.S., Japan and other countries denounced the zone’s declaration in November as provocative and said they would ignore China’s demands that their military aircraft announce flight plans, identify themselves and follow Chinese instructions. China has said it would take unspecified measures against aircraft that disobey.

However, Shen repeated China’s insistence that it was within its rights in following Japan, the U.S. and others in declaring such zones along its coastline to guard against hostile incursions.

The zone is a purely defensive measure that conforms to international practice, Shen said.

The zone is seen primarily as targeting Japanese and U.S. military flights over the East China Sea and its declaration followed more than a year of heightened tensions between China and Japan over control of a series of tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The zone pointedly incorporates the island china, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, which are controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

The Jan. 24 announcement follows a new spike in tensions with Japan over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a shrine honoring war dead, including commanders executed as war criminals for committing atrocities in China and elsewhere during World War II. China has furiously protested the visit and launched a new round of invective against Japan in international media and diplomatic circles. AP




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NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

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