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2008/07/24 11:25 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

North Korea Blasts S. Korea-U.S. Joint Military Exercises

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea blasted the upcoming joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, saying the "improved relations" touted by the U.S. and the South are nothing but empty talk.

   According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency on July 18, a spokesman for the Korean National Peace Committee in Pyongyang issued a statement calling the exercises "saber-rattling" and provocative war exercises targeted at the DPRK (North Korea).

   The denouncement came when the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command officially announced that it would stage Ulji Freedom Guardian from Aug. 18-22, with at least 10,000 U.S. forces stationed abroad and in South Korea involved.

   "This is an open declaration of confrontation with the DPRK," the statement said, adding the U.S. "warmongers" and the South Korean "puppet forces" only seek confrontation and war.

   Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun, the North's mouthpiece, on July 19 also criticized RIMPAC -- the multilateral maritime exercises led by the U.S. that includes the South Korean Navy -- as another DPRK-targeted invasion strategy. RIMPAC, which began June 28 near Hawaii, is to be held until the end of July.


North Korea Denounces Tokyo's Claim to Dokdo

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on July 19 denounced Tokyo's latest move to reinforce its longstanding claim to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, according to a North Korean Internet site monitored in Seoul.

   Japan's Education Ministry on July 14 released a teachers' manual that describes Dokdo as part of Japanese territory. It was the first time that Japan officially claimed the islets at a government level.

   The Web site "Uriminjokkiri" (by our nation itself), in its commentary titled "Japan's scheme to plunder Dokdo is renewed", accused Japan of "provoking all the Korean people."

   "Japanese reactionaries, in their newest teachers' manual, decided to write that their students need to strengthen their understanding of territories and domains. Starting 2012, the Japanese middle school textbooks are to describe Dokdo as Japanese territory. The new generations in Japan are to be inculcated with the ideas," it said.

   "This is a political provocation towards all the Korean people and a violation of sovereign rights."
The site, known as the North Korean government's official Web site whose server is based in China, issues propaganda aimed at ethnic Koreans abroad. It was the first comment by the North Korean media on Japan's recent move.

   "We cannot overlook that Japanese reactionaries have been recently intensifying their actions scheming on distortions of the history and obsessed with plundering Dokdo," the Web site said.

   "Including the case that the Japanese foreign ministry posted in February a document on its website saying that Dokdo is within the Japanese territory, Japanese provocations regarding Dokdo have been too frequent and are intensifying every time."

   The North Korean commentary also alleged South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is partially at fault, saying he has been ingratiating himself with 'mortal enemy' Japan.

   "(Lee) has been saying that (he will) not ask for Tokyo's apologies for the past and that (he will) pursue a future-oriented Korea-Japan relation," it said.

   "Lee has paid a tribute to the Jap King, calling him 'Tenno (The Lord of Heaven)'," it added.

  The territorial claim is an irritant in relations between South Korea and Japan.

   Korea has historically had sovereignty over the islets, which were invaded by Japan at the end of the Russo-Japan war in 1905. Anti-Japanese sentiment still exists in Korea where members of older generations still vividly remember how they suffered under Japan's colonialism from 1910 to 1945.


FIFA Offers Training for N. Korean Football Coaches

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- FIFA, the world's soccer governing body, has been running a training program for North Korean coaches for the first time in the country, a pro-Pyongyang daily in Japan reported on July 19.

   About 30 female and male North Korean soccer coaches are taking part in the program, said the Choson Sinbo, organ of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

   North Koreans have been taught about new training theories, methods and football techniques as well as tactics used by each national team taking part in the regional preliminaries for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the newspaper said.

   It marked the first time that FIFA has provided such programs in the North. The Asian Football Confederation has previously offered similar lectures for North Korean football coaches and referees twice every year.

   FIFA has actively taken part in programs to support the North's soccer in recent years, helping construct a training center for the country's national soccer team and laying new artificial grass at the Kimilsung Stadium in Pyongyang.


S. Korean President's Parliamentary Address Lacked Substance: N.K. Media

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak's recent parliamentary address on relations with North Korea lacked substance and merely repeated previous "anti-unification" views, a North Korean weekly claimed on July 20.

   Tongil Sinbo, the North's weekly dealing with the South, said the address made on July 11 clearly revealed Lee's confrontational stance towards the North. It added there was nothing new in the proposals made to restart bilateral dialogue.

   The weekly then called on Seoul to make clear its stance on the South-North Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000 and the October 4, 2007 Summit Declaration, which were signed by South Korean presidents who pushed for reconciliation with North Korea and held liberal views.

   After Lee took office on Feb. 25, the conservative government said it is reviewing all past inter-Korean agreements, hinting that Seoul may only honor some of them.

   In the National Assembly address, Lee said that the South Korean government is willing to engage in serious consultations on how to implement all previous inter-Korean agreements, but did not elaborate.

   The media outlet also said one of the key reasons why inter-Korean relations have deteriorated in the past few months is because of Lee's position that North Korea must first give up its nuclear ambitions before cooperation can be expanded.

   It also claimed that Lee called for dialogue but did not take any tangible action afterwards.