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No immediate plans to quit N. Korea embassy

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Britain said on Friday it had no immediate plans to withdraw its diplomats from North Korea but said it was discussing its next moves with its international partners, amid escalating nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.

"We are consulting international partners about these developments. No decisions have been taken, and we have no immediate plans to withdraw our embassy," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Several European countries with embassies in Pyongyang have been told by North Korean authorities to consider evacuating their diplomats.

The North Korean foreign ministry told diplomatic missions it was "unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organisations present in the country in the event of conflict", the Foreign Office said.

"They invited the embassies and organisations present at the meeting to inform them by 10 April what assistance they would require from the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) should they wish to be evacuated from DPRK or to be relocated elsewhere," it added in a statement.

Earlier, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said Pyongyang had warned in the notice that "from April 10 (it) would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organisations in the country in the event of conflict".

The spokeswoman said it was Britain's understanding that the North Koreans were asking countries whether they intended to leave, rather than advising them to leave.

Russia, which has relatively close ties with the North Korean regime, also received the notice and is in close contact with partners including China over its implications, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"The suggestion was made to all embassies in Pyongyang and we are trying to clarify the situation," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying on a visit to Uzbekistan.

The diplomatic escalation of the crisis came as an increasingly bellicose North Korea moved two mid-range missiles to its east coast.

The regime of young North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has issued apocalyptic threats in recent weeks, incensed by fresh UN sanctions as well as joint military drills by the US and South Korea.

Britain condemned North Korea's intensifying warnings of nuclear war as "provocations", and urged Pyongyang to "work constructively with the international community, including over the presence of foreign embassies".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130405/no-immediate-plans-quit-n-korea-embassy-1