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North Korea's Kim wants South to cut foreign army ties

Written by: Staff
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SEOUL, Dec 4 (Reuters) South Korea should halt its military cooperation with powers such as the United States, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said in rare comments that appeared today in a pro-Pyongyang Web site.

''South Korea should stop building up military forces and bringing in weapons from outside,'' Kim reportedly said, according to the web site www.uriminzokkiri.com.

It is rare for Kim to be directly quoted in official media speaking on the security situation on the Korean peninsula.

''(South Korea) also should keep away from reckless military provocations and discontinue joint military exercises with foreign armies,'' Kim said.

The web site, which can be translated as ''By our nation itself'', carried Kim's comments as reported in a state newspaper commentary.

The web site, run with the help of the North's communist party, did not say when Kim made the comments.

There are about 30,000 US troops in South Korea to support its some 670,000-strong military. South Korea has purchased weapons systems from the United States while US and South Korean troops have been holding joint military drills for decades.

North Korea has often called for an end to the joint drills and a withdraw of US troops from the peninsula.

The report comes as South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun embarked on a nearly two week trip to Southeast Asia and Oceania to discuss issues the security concerns raised by North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

REUTERS SSC KN1611

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