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Last Updated: Sat, 06.04.13 16:58

Countries rule out immediate embassy withdrawals from North Korea

BEIJING -- A number of countries have said they will not immediately pull out their embassy or diplomatic mission from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) despite a notice urging evacuation.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry earlier on Friday informed a number of foreign embassies and representatives of international organizations that they would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the event of conflict.

Russia has taken note of the proposal to withdraw its embassy in Pyongyang, Denis Samsonov, press officer of the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.

However, no decision has been made yet and the Russian embassy will continue normal operation, he added.

Diplomats were "closely monitoring" the situation in Pyongyang and all over the DPRK territory as well as statements from the country's leaders, Samsonov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow intended to clarify details before making a decision regarding the DPRK's offer to evacuate Russia's diplomatic mission.

"I will repeat once again because many factors are involved here, we are currently trying to clarify all these factors related to other countries involved in the six-party process," Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington will take "prudent precautions" given the heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.

"We have been in touch with the Swedes, our protecting power in the DPRK, because, obviously, if they were to change their status, we would have to inform American citizens in the DPRK," Nuland said at a regular news briefing on Friday.

She noted that the U.S. embassy in Seoul put out a message on Thursday saying no "specific" information had suggested an "imminent threat" to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea.

Britain has no immediate plan to withdraw embassy from DPRK either. "We are consulting international partners about these developments. No decisions have been taken, and we have no immediate plans to withdraw our embassy," a British Foreign Office spokesperson said.

In a similar response, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippi Lalliot said France has no plans to evacuate its nationals from Pyongyang.

"We take this situation seriously and are in close cooperation with our European partners on site as well as agencies of the United Nations," the spokesman said.

France continues to estimate with greatest vigilance "the evolution of the situation in the Korean Peninsula as well as measures to ensure the safety of its citizens," he added.

Brazil will also keep its Pyongyong embassy open for the time being.

"About the situation in the DPRK we are obviously concerned. We are in permanent contact with our Ambassador Roberto Colin," Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said Friday.

The United Nations will make no immediate move to pull out its international staff members in the DPRK, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Friday.

"UN staff in the DPRK remain engaged in their humanitarian and development work throughout the country," Nesirky said.

According to UN officials, there are currently 36 international staff members and 21 local employees working for seven different UN agencies and programs in the DPRK. (Xinhua)

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