N. Korea: 2 Koreas’ ties won’t improve unless U.S. troops withdraws

September 8, 2014
A South Korean marine aims his machine gun during the U.S.-South Korea joint landing exercises called Ssangyong as part of the Foal Eagle military exercises in Pohang, South Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014.  South Korea says North Korea has announced plans to conduct live-fire drills near the rivals' disputed western sea boundary.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A South Korean marine aims his machine gun during the U.S.-South Korea joint landing exercises called Ssangyong as part of the Foal Eagle military exercises in Pohang, South Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014.

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korea said Sunday that its relations with South Korea won’t improve unless the United States withdraws its troops from South Korea.

It is not unusual for Pyongyang to make such a demand, but the latest one came a day after North Korea fired three short-range missiles into the sea off the country’s east coast in what could be the latest show of force against Seoul.

Saturday’s firing marked the 19th time that North Korea has launched missiles or rockets this year, with the number of projectiles fired totaling 111, according to data of South Korea’s military.

“It is not possible to improve the North-South relations nor is it possible to achieve peace, reunification … as long as the U.S. military presence in South Korea is left intact,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in an English-language statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The committee, which handles inter-Korean affairs, urged South Korea to “make a bold decision” of withdrawing the U.S. forces from South Korea if Seoul wants to improve relations with Pyongyang.

About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter possible military aggression by the North.

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