North Korea denounces US arms aid to Taiwan as ‘dangerous’ provocation

By Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea on Friday criticised a U.S. weapons aid package to Taiwan, state media reported on Friday, accusing the United States of driving tensions in the region to “another ignition point of war”.

The United States unveiled an aid package for Taiwan worth up to $345 million on Friday as Congress authorised up to $1 billion worth of weapons for the island as a part of the 2023 budget.

In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, Maeng Yong Rim, director general of the North Korean foreign ministry’s Chinese affairs department, said the plan is a “dangerous political and military provocation” and a “flagrant violation” of the One China principle.

“It is the sinister intention of the U.S. to turn Taiwan into an unsinkable advanced base against China and the first-line trench for carrying out its strategy for deterring China,” the North’s statement said.

Beijing claims the democratically governed island as its own territory, and has repeatedly warned against any “official exchanges” between Washington and Taipei. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

“The Asia-Pacific region, including the Korean peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, is neither a theatre of the U.S. military activity nor a test site of war,” the statement said, warning that the U.S. will have to “pay a high price” for “provoking the core interest of China”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met a Chinese delegation in Pyongyang last week and vowed to develop the two countries’ relations to a “new high”. Before the meeting, they reviewed Kim’s newest nuclear-capable missiles and attack drones at a military parade.

China’s military has been flexing its muscles around the island, recently sending dozens of fighters, bombers and other aircraft, including drones, into the skies to Taiwan’s south, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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