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Russia warns of rising tensions in the Koreas
March 31, 2013, 4:01 am

North Korea upped its rhetoric after Washington held military exercises with Seoul near the DMZ early March [Getty Images]

North Korea upped its rhetoric after Washington held military exercises with Seoul near the DMZ early March [Getty Images]

Moscow is urging restraint on all sides as tensions mount in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea allegedly declared a “state of war” with South Korea.

On Saturday, media reports quoted North Korea’s official news agency as saying that the country had “entered a state of war” with its southern neighbour.

The US State Department immediately reacted by saying it was taking seriously new threats by North Korea. However, it also said that North Korea has a history of “bellicose rhetoric.”

But Russian media reported late Saturday that a faulty translation might have been to blame for this apparent uptick in statements issued on both sides of the Pacific.

In the meantime, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it “is against any statements and steps leading to the escalation of tensions and expects all the sides to exercise maximum restraint and responsibility for the fate of the Korean Peninsula”.

It added that Russia maintains permanent contacts with partners in the six-party talks, which include the two Koreas, China, the US, and Japan.

North and South Korea are not technically “at peace” since no peace treaty was signed following the Korean War in 1953. The Demilitarized Zone between the countries is the most heavily armed border in the world.

On March 11, South Korea and the US began annual large-scale military exercises, codenamed Key Resolve. The drills involve 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 US troops.

Prior to the exercises, Pyongyang threatened the US with a preemptive nuclear strike amid warnings that it plans to terminate the Korean War Armistice Agreement.

It warned of retaliatory countermeasures if the US and South Korea went ahead with the drills.

Earlier last week, the US dispatched two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on an “extended deterrence” practice run over South Korea.

US officials said the exercise should serve “to demonstrate very clearly the resolve of the US to deter against aggression on the KoreanPeninsula.”

North Korea responded by placing its strategic rocket forces on standby to strike US and South Korean targets.

Alexei Pushkov, the head of the State Duma committee for international affairs, said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un does not want war.

US and South Korean analysts agree saying that Kim Jong-un is likely following the playbook written by his father and grandfather and currently testing Washington’s resolve.

RIA Novosti and Agencies