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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
N Korea attacks 'airspace violation'
US fighter plane
The US has a large number of forces in the area
North Korea has accused the United States of violating its airspace in what it says is a deliberate snub to the new spirit of co-operation between the two countries.

According to state media, two US fighter planes entered North Korean airspace on Thursday during joint exercises between American and South Korean forces.

This incident was a product of the deliberate and premeditated moves of the US warlike forces

Korean Central News Agency
The US has not responded to the claims, but Washington earlier denied the joint exercises threatened the atmosphere of goodwill following Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to Pyongyang earlier in the week.

A State Department spokesman said the exercises were part of regularly scheduled annual manoeuvres and had nothing to do with her visit.

'Deliberate moves'

According to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, US planes entered North Korean airspace near Kaesong, about 10km (6 miles) north of the border with South Korea.

The North says the incident undermines the recent thaw in relations
After the North's army carried out a "prompt self-defensive measure" the planes then returned to their base on Kanghwa Island in the South.

"This incident was a product of the deliberate and premeditated moves of the US warlike forces to aggravate the daily improving situation on the Korean peninsula," said the news agency.

"The US military authorities should take full responsibility for the consequences to be entailed by this grave military provocation and apologise," it added.

Reconciliation threatened

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright concluded her visit to North Korea, the first high-level contact between the two countries for nearly 50 years.

South Korean tanks
Military tension remains high on the Korean peninsula
But the "2000 Foal Eagle" exercises, which began in Seoul on Wednesday, posed a risk to all the recent gains, said a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry.

The United States has about 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea in support of South Korean forces.

North and South Korea remain technically at war as no full peace treaty was ever signed following the 1950-53 conflict.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim hails peace prize boost
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea's dramatic turnaround
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Mrs Albright's visit
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korean missile breakthrough
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