- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
N. Korea: U.S.-S. Korean exercises threaten region
HANOI (AP) -- North Korea warned the United States and South Korea on Thursday to call off military exercises scheduled for this weekend and to back off any new sanctions against the communist country or risk placing the entire region in danger.
The warning issued on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, came as tensions on the Korean peninsula simmer over the sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors. The North was blamed for the attack but has denied any responsibility.
"Amid growing concerns by the international community, South Korea and the United States have announced they would hold joint naval exercises," said Ri Tong Il, a North Korean spokesman, according to Yonhap news agency. "Such a move presents a grave threat to the peace and security not only to the Korean peninsula, but to the region."
On Wednesday, Washington announced it would impose new sanctions aimed at stifling the North's nuclear activities. Mr. Ri said any new sanctions would be in violation of a U.N. Security Council statement approved earlier this month that condemned the sinking but stopped short of directly assigning blame.
"If the U.S. is really interested in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it should halt the military exercises and sanctions that destroy the mood for dialogue," Mr. Ri told reporters.
Sanctions mean "escalation of the (United States') hostile policy toward North Korea," he added.
He later said the North is willing to meet the United States and Japan on the sidelines of Friday's security meeting if they request it, but no such proposals have come, Yonhap reported.
Seoul has said there will be no one-on-one meetings with the North until an apology is issued for the sinking of the navy ship Cheonan, and though U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and representatives of the other countries involved in stalled nuclear talks will be in Vietnam, diplomats have said a meeting among the sides are unlikely.
In a sign of how tense relations are -- and how difficult such meetings would be -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates struck back Thursday at North Korea's criticism of the military drills. "My response to that is that I condemn their sinking of the Cheonan," Mr. Gates said to reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that he wasn't surprised the North was upset about the drills, but that South Korea and the United States have the right to conduct the military exercises.
"They can be angry on many things," he told reporters, speaking in English. "If you Google North Korea every day, you find all kinds of angry words, and I'll be in trouble if I follow my policy based on their state of emotion."
An international investigation blamed the North for the March ship sinking, which has raised tensions on the peninsula. The two Koreas remain in a state of war because a peace treaty was never signed to end their three-year war in the 1950s. Pyongyang cites the presence of 28,500 U.S. troops on South Korean soil as a main reason for building up its atomic program.
North Korea vehemently denies any involvement in the sinking and has asked the U.N. Command governing the armistice to let the regime conduct its own investigation. Military officers from the command and North Korea were to meet along the heavily fortified border that divides the peninsula, known as the Demilitarized Zone, on Friday.
The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations now are caught in the middle of a diplomatic tug of war, with the two Koreas battling over the exact wording of one paragraph in a regional security statement about the sinking. The statement will be issued Friday by ASEAN, along with 17 other nations that include the United States, Japan and both Koreas.
The North and its main ally, China, are pushing to avoid any terse wording, while South Korea and its staunch backer, the United States, want tough language condemning the attack and nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.
There was similar haggling earlier in the week during the ASEAN's foreign ministers meeting, which concluded with a watered-down version of what South Korea wanted. The ministers' statement "deplored" the ship sinking but characterized it as an "incident" instead of an "attack."
Associated Press writers Margie Mason in Hanoi, Kwang-tae Kim in Seoul and Joe Cochrane in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- Leon Panetta named as source of 'Zero Dark Thirty' scriptwriters information
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow