SEOUL: Joint drills by the United States, South Korea and Japan have a "sinister aim" toward North Korea and are part of a dangerous prelude to the creation of an "Asian version of NATO", North Korean state news agency KCNA said on Wednesday (Jun 29).
The reports on KCNA came hours before leaders of South Korea and Japan are due to attend NATO's annual summit as observers for the first time. They will also meet with US President Joe Biden to discuss North Korea, the first such trilateral summit since 2017.
The three countries will also conduct a combined missile detection and tracking exercise near Hawaii in August, called Pacific Dragon.
"The US is getting hell-bent on the military cooperation with its stooges in disregard of the primary security demand and concern by Asia-pacific countries," KCNA said.
In a similar statement over the weekend, the North's foreign ministry said the drills showed the hypocrisy of US offers of diplomatic engagement and dialogue without preconditions.
North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, including of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, and there are concerns it could be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017.
South Korea and Japan are both US allies, but their relationship with each other has been strained by historical tensions over Japan's occupation of Korea from 1910-1945.