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U.S. urges North Korea to respect sea border

graphic
MESSAGE BOARDS:
North Korea: new beginning?
 

September 3, 1999
Web posted at: 8:35 a.m. EDT (0035 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The United States urged North Korea on Thursday to continue to adhere to a sea border separating the reclusive Stalinist state from rival South Korea.

"We urge the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) to recognize the practicality of the northern limit line by keeping its craft north of the line," State Department spokesman, Phil Reeker, said.

"The northern limit line was and still is demarcated by the U.N. Command to serve as a practical way to separate forces. It's been an effective means of preventing military tension between North and South Korean military forces for 46 years," he said.

He reacted after North Korea on Thursday declared the sea border separating the rival Koreas, which was demarcated by the United Nations Command four decades ago, "invalid."

"We declare that the brigandish 'northern limit line' unilaterally defined by the U.S.-forces side inside our territorial waters of the West Sea (Yellow Sea) of Korea is invalid," the official Korean Central News agency said, quoting a statement from the Korean People's Army.

"Our self-defensive right to the military demarcation line at the West Sea of Korea will be exercised by various means and methods," it said.

North and South Korean naval ships exchanged fire at the disputed Yellow Sea border on June 15 in the first such skirmish since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Each side blamed the other for provoking the clash, in which a North Korean torpedo boat was sunk and several patrol boats were heavily damaged.

The U.N. Command, which fought the Chinese-backed North Koreans in the Korean War, unilaterally demarcated the line in 1953. The two Koreas remain technically at war because their conflict ended in an armed truce, not a peace agreement.

Reeker said the issue of the "northern line" was raised on Wednesday during military talks at the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas but gave no details.

The United States and North Korea are due to have bilateral talks in Berlin next week on efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, including a U.S. demand for Pyongyang to abandon its missile program.

ASIANOW


RELATED STORIES:
U.N. Command accepts North Korea proposal to meet
August 31, 1999
N. Korea willing to negotiate missile program
August 18, 1999
North Korea open to warmer relations with West, official suggests
August 17, 1999

RELATED SITES:
KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY
Ministry of National Defense, Republic of Korea
East Asian media
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