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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 July, 2003, 02:44 GMT 03:44 UK
Veterans remember Korean war

By Charles Scanlon
BBC correspondent in Panmunjom

Hundreds of veterans from around the world have attended a commemoration to mark the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean war.

They were told it was a celebration of victory.

Another speaker warned about the threat from North Korea's nuclear programme describing it as unacceptable.

Veterans of the Korean war
Veterans from around the world have gathered for the anniversary
Fifteen hundred veterans from 19 countries were brought by bus to Panmunjom where the armistice was signed 50 years ago.

The ceremony took place in a tent just a few metres from the military demarcation line where a single North Korean soldier was standing guard.

The Commander of American Forces in Korea, General Leon LaPort, said the event was a grand celebration.

He described the truce line as a line of freedom and prosperity that had barred Communist aggression.

He said the armistice was the first step towards the democratic reunification of Korea.

North Koreans mark the 50th anniversary of armistice
North Koreans held their own commemorations
Another speaker, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, said the truce had ensure relative stability but there was still work to be done.

She described North Korea's development of nuclear weapons as provocative and unacceptable.

North Korean representatives were not invited to the ceremony.

The Communist regime is holding its own celebration in the capital, Pyongyang.

The Chief of Staff of the North Korean army earlier warned the US against aggression on the peninsula.

He said the Americans would suffer a miserable defeat if they attempted a surgical air strike on the North.

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