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A North Korean newspaper reported this week that U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Walter Sharp is a "war fanatic" who is trying to provoke a war on the peninsula, based on comments he made during several interviews with Stars and Stripes.

The item, published in Tuesday’s online Rodong Shinmun, said Sharp’s statements about the success of last month’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercise means the United States intends to "occupy" the Korean peninsula indefinitely. The piece also criticized Sharp for saying the United States doesn’t plan to withdraw its troops from South Korea.

USFK spokesman Dave Palmer said in an e-mail to Stripes that he wouldn’t comment on other nations’ editorials, but the command conducts interviews with Stars and Stripes to keep the military community informed.

"Our mission is to defend the Republic of Korea against external aggression and to maintain peace and stability in East Asia," he said.

North Korea typically releases statements condemning the U.S. and South Korean militaries during exercises conducted by the two allies.

Since Sharp took command of USFK in early June, he has spoken with Stars and Stripes on topics ranging from a change in the curfew for U.S. troops to the completion date for construction at Camp Humphreys.

In June, he said North Korea could be learning Iraqi-style insurgency techniques, and he "greatly" feared it could use improvised explosives in South Korea.

Last month, Sharp said South Korea and the United States had exceeded his expectations during Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the first major test of South Korea’s ability to lead all troops on the peninsula during wartime.

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