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U.S. displays show of force over North Korea

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The United States has announced another conspicuous display of firepower along the Korean peninsula. It's sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to take part in annual U.S.-South Korean war games that North Korea says are a preparation for invasion.

Last week, the U.S. sent B-2 stealth bombers. Meanwhile, the North today appointed a new premier who is seen as an economic reformer. The move came after a high-level declaration that nuclear bomb building and a stronger economy are the nation's top priorities.

North Korea issued its latest belligerent threat Saturday, saying it has entered "a state of war" with South Korea a day after its young leader threatened the United States because two American B-2 bombers flew a training mission in South Korea.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely and North Korea's threats are instead aimed at drawing Washington into talks that could result in aid and boosting leader Kim Jong Un's image at home. But the harsh rhetoric from North Korea and rising animosity from the rivals that have followed U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang's Feb. 12 nuclear test have raised worries of a misjudgment leading to a clash.

In a joint statement by the government, political parties and organizations, North Korea said Saturday that it will deal with all matters involving South Korea according to "wartime regulations." It also warned it will retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without "any prior notice."

The divided Korean Peninsula is already in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. But Pyongyang said it was scrapping the war armistice earlier this month.

South Korea's Unification Ministry released a statement saying the latest threat wasn't new and was just a follow-up to Kim's earlier order to put troops on a high alert in response to annual U.S-South Korean military drills. Pyongyang sees those drills as rehearsals for an invasion; the allies call them routine and defensive.

 

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