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N. Korea denounces planned S. Korea-U.S. joint military drills
SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea urged South Korea and the United States Wednesday to call off their planned joint military maneuvers this year, denouncing them as rehearsals for invading the communist country.

   The Marine Corps of South Korea and the U.S. are set to stage a joint landing exercise in March, in their largest combined drill in 23 years.

   South Korea and the U.S. regularly hold other combined exercises to strengthen their readiness for possible North Korean provocations.

   The landing exercise and other joint military drills demonstrated the "madness" of South Korean and U.S. warmongers "to light the fuse of war against" North Korea, according to the North's propaganda Web site, Uriminzokkiri.

   The Web site called on South Korea and the U.S. to immediately scrap what it claims are plots to invade the North.

   North Korea routinely denounces military drills in the South as rehearsals for a northward invasion. South Korea and the U.S. reject such claims, saying the joint exercises are purely defensive in nature.

   In Washington, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Army Gen. Jung Seung-jo, met with his American counterpart Tuesday at the Pentagon to sign a preliminary agreement for a new operational plan against potential North Korean provocations, officials and sources said.

   The two allies have been working on the joint plan to counter any provocative acts by North Korea after its deadly artillery attack on a South Korean border island in 2010.

   About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.