EU diplomats in Pyongyang in 'constant contact'

The diplomats of the seven EU countries with embassies in North Korea are in close and constant contact after Pyongyang's warning they may have to leave, diplomatic sources said Friday.

The sources said the embassies of EU member states in Pyongyang were "in permanent contact and are assessing the situation" after North Korea said it could not guarantee their safety after April 10.

EU members Britain, Germany, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Sweden have diplomatic representation in isolated North Korea which has ratcheted up the tension with threats to launch nuclear attacks on the United States.

Bulgaria's foreign ministry said the chief of all EU missions in Pyongyang had agreed to meet Saturday to discuss a common position.

The sources said representatives of all 27 EU states would meet Monday in Brussels to review.

The EU does not have a separate presence in Pyongyang but "is following developments through its delegations in Seoul and Beijing," one source said.

"We are also in close coordination with our international partners, especially South Korea, China, Japan and the United States," the source added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow, which has relatively close ties with Pyongyang, was consulting with China over the warning, as well as the United States.

In London, the Foreign Office said Pyongyang had warned 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."

"Our understanding is that the North Koreans were asking whether embassies are intending to leave, rather than advising them to leave," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.