South Korea gave Kim Jong-un a 'red line'

North Korea slammed upcoming U.S.-South Korea exercises and warned of war on Monday. File

Tension on the Korean peninsula has increased in recent months over concern that North Korea is close to achieving its goal of putting the mainland United States within range of a nuclear weapon.

"We expect North Korea could positively respond to our proposals for military and Red Cross talks where the two Koreas could frankly discuss issues of mutual interests", said an official from Seoul's ministry responsible for reunification of the Koreas, as quoted by state news agency Yonhap.

North Korea denounced the exercise on Monday, warning that even an accident in the midst of it could trigger a nuclear conflict.

Last week, tensions between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un peaked after a heated exchange of threats.

He reaffirmed a call by China and Russian Federation for the U.S.to suspend annual military exercises with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang halting its missile and nuclear tests as a first step toward direct talks.

"To me, the economic war with China is everything".

Despite some calls to postpone or drastically modify drills to ease the hostility on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. and South Korean military officials say that the long-scheduled exercises will go ahead as planned.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, told reporters that President Donald Trump directly has "told us to develop credible viable military options and that's exactly what we're doing".

"These threats are serious to us, and thus we have to be prepared".

The report came hours after US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis warned that if North Korea hits the US island territory of Guam with a missile, it would be "game on", meaning war.

"If anything, the joint exercises must be strengthened", Cheon Seongwhun, who served as a national security adviser to former conservative South Korean President Park Geun-hye, said in an interview. About 2500 additional USA troops arrived on the Korean Peninsula temporarily past year for the exercise, according to a Pentagon news release at the time.

"China is not too anxious that the United States might suddenly attack North Korea".

About 25,000 US service members joined last year's UFG drills.

People march during a rally calling for peace on the peninsula in central Seoul, South Korea, on Aug 15, 2017.

The recently-elected president Moon said Pyongyang would be crossing a red line if it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and weaponized it by fitting a nuclear warhead on top of the rocket.

That occurred after North Korea hijacked a US Navy intelligence ship, the USS Pueblo, and launched a bloody Special Operations raid on the Blue House, the centre of the South Korean government, with plans to kill South Korean President Park Chung-hee.

North Korea's threats against Guam and its advancing missile capabilities, highlighted by a pair of intercontinental ballistic missile flight tests in July, have raised security jitters among many South Koreans who worry that a fully functional ICBM in Pyongyang would force the United States to rethink whether to trade NY or Washington for Seoul in the event of a war on the peninsula.

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