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Britain urges N.Korea to protect embassies

World

London - Britain on Friday reminded North Korea that it has a responsibility to protect embassies and said it was “considering next steps”, after Pyongyang said foreign diplomats should consider pulling out amid soaring nuclear tensions.

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In this March 11, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed March 12, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets military personnel at a long-range artillery sub-unit of KPA Unit 641 during his visit to front-line military units near the western sea boarder in North Korea near the South's western border island of Baengnyeong. Kim urged front-line troops to be on "maximum alert" for a potential war as a state-run newspaper said Pyongyang had carried out a threat to cancel the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. (AP Photo/KCNA via KNS) JAPAN OUT UNTIL 14 DAYS AFTER THE DAY OF TRANSMISSION

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said that like Russia, Britain had been told by North Korean authorities that it may wish to evacuate its mission in Pyongyang.

“Their communication said that from April 10, the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organisations in the country in the event of conflict,” the spokeswoman said.

“Our understanding is that the North Koreans were asking whether embassies are intending to leave, rather than advising them to leave.”

She added: “The DPRK has responsibilities under the Vienna Convention to protect diplomatic missions and we believe they have taken this step as part of their country's rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them.

“We are considering next steps including a change to our travel advice.”

The North Korean foreign ministry has suggested that Russian diplomats should “examine the question of evacuating employees”, a Russian embassy spokesman told news agencies.

North Korea, incensed by UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks. - Sapa-AFP

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