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N Korea at crossroads

South Korea no longer calls Pyongyang 'enemy' in defense paper

Japan downgraded to a 'neighbor' as tensions mount

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the demilitarized zone separating the two countries in April.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- South Korea ceased referring to North Korea as an "enemy" in its biennial defense white paper for 2018 released Tuesday, reflecting President Moon Jae-in's efforts to prioritize rapprochement with Pyongyang.

At the same time, the document eliminated the phrase "share the basic values of liberal democracy and market economy" in describing its relationship with Japan. The move appears to reflect a souring of bilateral ties over allegations that a South Korean warship locked radar on a Japanese patrol plane.

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