Economy & Finance

EU says Korea crisis does not justify pulling diplomats out

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union told North Korea on Wednesday the increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula did not justify pulling out EU states’ diplomats.

Sweden, acting on behalf of the 27-nation EU, gave the message to the North Korean foreign ministry in Pyongyang in response to last week’s warning by North Korea it could not guarantee the safety of diplomats after April 10, an EU spokeswoman said.

“Despite current tensions, which (North Korea) deliberately attempts to increase through aggressive rhetoric, we judge that the situation on the ground does not justify evacuation or re-location of EU member states’ diplomatic missions,” either in North or South Korea, Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said.

South Korea said on Wednesday there a “very high” probability that North Korea, after weeks of threats of war, would test-launch a medium-range missile at any time as a show of strength.

Kocijancic said that, for the time being, EU member states had not changed their travel advice to the region. Seven EU countries – Germany, Sweden, Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania – have embassies in Pyongyang.

“The EU calls on (North Korea) to refrain from further provocative declarations or actions, and instead, to engage in good faith with the international community to defuse tensions and seek, through dialogue, a lasting solution for the de-nuclearization and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” she said.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft- editing by Justyna Pawlak and Andrew Roche)

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