North Korea on Thursday protested against a new round of financial sanctions by the U.S. and a joint South Korea-U.S. naval drill, calling them a "violation of the UN Security Council presidential statement."


The response came a day after the U.S. announced a plan to tighten sanctions to block the reclusive regime's cash flow. Earlier, the North had welcomed the UNSC statement, which failed to pinpoint it as the culprit behind the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan.


North Korean Foreign Ministry official Ri Dong-il told reporters in Hanoi, "Our position on sanctions is clear. South Korea and the U.S. on Wednesday announced a plan to stage a joint military drill. This is a grave threat to the peace and stability in the region, as well as on the Korean Peninsula." Ri is a spokesman for the North Korean delegation, led by Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun, to the ASEAN Regional Forum in the Vietnamese capital.


"The UNSC statement urged parties concerned to exercise restraint and solve issues concerning the Korean Peninsula peacefully and through talks and negotiations," he said, and "sanctions run counter to its spirit."


Immediately after the UNSC statement, the North launched a fresh charm offensive aimed at the U.S., calling for a resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks.


"We've already suggested resumption of the six-party talks. We're staying firm on this," Ri said. "This also is consistent with the spirit of the UNSC presidential statement that urges talks and negotiations to solve issues." He made no mention of the Cheonan sinking.


Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also arrived in Vietnam to attend the gathering. Diplomatic warfare over the Cheonan sinking will likely dominate the forum since the foreign ministers of all participating nations in the six-party talks, South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, are attending.


Yu denied that sanctions violate the UNSC statement. "The U.S.'s additional sanctions against the North are aimed at blocking its illicit activities in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1874," which was adopted in the wake of its nuclear tests.


At a meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Yu said, "We have to put pressure on the North so that it can no longer stall for time and challenge the international community."

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