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N. Korea lashes out anew over protest

| Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 9:51 p.m.

PYONGYANG — North Korea lashed out anew on Tuesday at South Korea over a small public protest in Seoul in which demonstrators burned effigies of the North's leaders, saying it would not hold talks with its southern neighbor unless it apologized for anti-North Korean actions “big and small” and warning that it could take retaliatory measures at any time.

The statement, which was issued by the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army, came amid international fears that the North is preparing to conduct a medium-range missile test and also as North Korea marked the second day of festivities in honor of the April 15 birthday of its first leader, Kim Il Sung.

Later in the day, its state media quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying North Korea has no intention of holding talks with the United States unless it also abandons its hostility against the North.

The spokesman said the North will “intensify unspecified military countermeasures” unless the United States stops conducting military drills on the peninsula and pulls out all the military assets needed to threaten the North with a nuclear attack.

The renewed vitriol, which included the threat for unspecified retaliatory action, followed a Monday protest by about 250 people in downtown Seoul, where effigies of Kim Il Sung and his late son and successor, Kim Jong Il, were burned. Such protests are fairly common in South Korea, and though Monday's was held on the holiday that North Korea calls “The Day of the Sun,” some analysts suggested North Korea was using it as a pretext to reject calls for a dialogue with the South.

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