SEOUL, South Korea >> North Korea has again threatened to destroy the United States and South Korea. The communist North issued its latest war rhetoric on the eve of its army’s anniversary.
The official Korean Central News Agency says that People’s Armed Forces Minster Kim Yong Chun issued the warning Sunday in a Pyongyang national meeting ahead of the army’s founding anniversary.
KCNA cites Kim as saying the North’s military knows no mercy and will "wipe out" the allies if they ignite a war.
The United States and South Korea launched annual joint drills in late February. Seoul’s Defense Ministry says some part of the training are still under way.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened war over the drills, which it views as an attack preparation.
The threat comes as ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter and three other former leaders arrived in Beijing on Sunday en route to North Korea to discuss the revival of nuclear disarmament talks.
Carter and the group of veteran statesmen known as the Elders are to travel to Pyongyang on Tuesday as part of international efforts to restart the negotiations on ending North Korea’s nuclear program.
The group, which includes former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland and former Irish President Mary Robinson, said it also plans to discuss North Korea’s chronic food shortages.
International disarmament talks with North Korea have been stalled for the past two years amid growing concerns over its nuclear programs.
"At a time when official dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea appears to be at a standstill, we aim to see how we may be of assistance in reducing tensions and help the parties address key issues including denuclearization," Carter was quoted as saying in a statement.
Carter, a Democrat from Georgia who was president from 1977 to 1981, is well regarded in North Korea despite its longtime animosity with the U.S. He has visited several times in a private capacity, most recently last August to secure the release of an imprisoned American.
Carter told reporters earlier this month that he would "try to induce the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons" and help the country work out a peace treaty with South Korea and the United States. No peace treaty was ever signed after the 1950-53 Korean War.