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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

South Korea urges North to release fishing boat, crew

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) -- South Korea has urged North Korea to release a fishing boat carrying four crewmembers that was seized earlier on Thursday.

According to the Yonhap news agency, a North Korean patrol boat detained the South Korean 800 Yeonan fishing vessel after it crossed the countries' sea border in the East Sea.

It quoted a South Korean Defense Ministry official as saying the boat's satellite navigation system had apparently malfunctioned, causing it to stray into North Korean waters.

North Korea has never accepted a UN-mandated border in the area.

A Russian expert said the incident would probably not worsen South-North ties, adding that South Korea was attempting to meet the North halfway.

Alexander Zhebin, director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, suggested that the confrontation between the two states "has reached a critical point" and that "both sides understand that some measures toward reconciliation are vital."

North Korea said on Monday it was ready for bilateral talks with the United States, but repeated it would not rejoin six-party talks over its nuclear program, Yonhap reported.

Washington has been unresponsive to Pyongyang's request, demanding the North return to the international talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

The communist state quit the talks and announced the restart of its nuclear program after the UN Security Council condemned its April 5 long-range missile launch. The Security Council imposed tougher sanctions on the North after it conducted its second nuclear test in May.

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