SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — At least for now, North Korea has shifted its focus away from weeks of warlike rhetoric.
The North today appointed a new premier who is seen as an economic reformer. The move came after a high-level declaration that nuclear bomb building and a stronger economy are the nation's top priorities.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has announced another conspicuous display of firepower. It's sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to take part in annual U.S.-South Korean war games that North Korea says is a preparation for invasion.
South Korea's new president told her top military leaders today to set aside political considerations and respond strongly if North Korea should attack.
North Korea has reacted with anger to the U.S.-South Korean military drills, and to a new round of U.N. and U.S. sanctions that followed its underground nuclear test in February.
But analysts see a full-scale North Korean attack as unlikely. They say the threats are more likely efforts to bring softer policies toward the North from the new government in South Korea, and to win diplomatic talks with Washington. The threats are also seen as an effort to boost the standing of North Korea's new leader at home.
APPHOTO TOK801: In this Sunday, March 31, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed in Tokyo Monday, April 1, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives a speech during a plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea. After weeks of war-like rhetoric, North Korean leader Kim gathered legislators Monday for an annual spring parliamentary session taking place one day after top party officials adopted a statement declaring building nuclear weapons and the economy the nation's top priorities. (AP Photo/KCNA via KNS) JAPAN OUT UNTIL 14 DAYS AFTER THE DAY OF TRANSMISSION (31 Mar 2013)
<<APPHOTO TOK801 (03/31/13)>>
APPHOTO SEL806: Smoke bombs explode near South Korean army tanks during an exercise against possible attacks by North Korea near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Hwacheon, South Korea, Monday, April 1, 2013. After weeks of war-like rhetoric, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gathered legislators Monday for an annual spring parliamentary session taking place one day after top party officials adopted a statement declaring building nuclear weapons and the economy the nation's top priorities. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Lee Hae-ryong) KOREA OUT (1 Apr 2013)
<<APPHOTO SEL806 (04/01/13)>>