UN Urges North Korea to Retract Plane Threat
By VOA News
10 March 2009
The United Nations aviation safety agency has called on North Korea to retract its threat against passenger planes flying near its airspace.
South Korean and other airlines have been rerouting flights away from North Korean airspace after Pyongyang said last week it could not guarantee the safety of South Korean civilian flights near or over its borders while U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises are underway.
The International Civil Aviation Organization met Monday and urged North Korea to retract its threat.
U.S. special envoy on North Korea Stephen Bosworth told reporters Saturday upon arrival in South Korea that he did not think the warning was very helpful.
Bosworth also said the United States wants dialogue with the North, adding Washington is "reaching out now."
Singapore Airlines and Air Canada said Friday they were joining South Korean carriers in avoiding North Korean airspace.
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak condemned the North's threat to civilian aircraft. Speaking during a visit to Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, Friday, Mr. Lee said the situation on the Korean peninsula requires international attention. He urged North Korea to return to the negotiating table.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said North Korea's belligerent rhetoric is unwarranted and counterproductive.
North Korea also warned that the exercises, which started Monday, could trigger a war.
Washington and Seoul say the annual drills involving tens of thousands of troops are purely defensive.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.
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