SEOUL: North Korea criticized Britain on Tuesday (August 3rd) for its plan to permanently deploy two warships in the Asia-Pacific region this year, calling it a “provocation”.
The plan comes as London steps up its engagement in Asia after expressing growing concern in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.
The lone Asian state said news of the plan coincided with the passage of the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its escort ships through seas in which China rivaled the United States and Japan for influence.
A North Korean official criticized comments by British Defense Minister Ben Wallace suggesting that the North and China were trying to isolate Japan and South Korea and threatening freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region.
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“It is a kind of provocation against us that Britain, which is escalating the situation by pushing its warships into distant Asia-Pacific, uses our ‘threat’ as an excuse,” the official said in a statement on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. website.
“This will only lead to strong resistance from local countries and tensions in the already sensitive regional situation.”
The British Embassy in Seoul could not be reached immediately for comment.