North Korea looking for an excuse to stiffen its position?

The joint military exercises the USA and South Korea launched on Monday have provoked a negative reaction in North Korea.

According to reports from Pyongyang, Rodong Shinmun, one of the central newspapers in North Korea, has published a commentary condemning the South Korean manoeuvres as preparations for war.

North Korea was actually offered to send observers to the exercises but Pyongyang dismissed the suggestion as "outrageous." Following up on this, it refused to exchange notes with South Korea, thus jeopardising the inter-Korean Agreement on Economic Co-operation, and decided not to send a sports team to the 2003 Student Games, which are taking place in Taegu, South Korea, on August 21-31.

Observers say Pyongyang's behaviour might also jeopardise inter-Korean talks on economic co-operation and construction of a trans-Korean railroad connecting to Russia's Trans-Siberian Mainline and six-sided negotiations on overcoming the crisis dealing with North Korea's nuclear program, due in late August.

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