S Korea-Germany-NK threats

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said recent war-like rhetoric from North Korea is "unacceptable" and pledged to closely work with South Korea to help defuse tensions on the Korea Peninsula, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.

Westerwelle made the remarks during a 15-minute telephone conservation with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who is in Washington this week.

The German minister told Yun that the North's recent threats were "unacceptable" and his country "will play all possible roles to resolve the North Korean issue," the ministry said in a statement.

Yun told Westerwelle that Seoul is coping with Pyongyang's threats "in a calm, but resolute manner," according to the statement.

This week, North Korea drastically increased the stakes in an escalating standoff with South Korea and the United States, by vowing to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, declaring to use its uranium enrichment facility to make nuclear weapons and banning South Korean workers from entering an inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong.

The North has issued bellicose rhetoric since the U.N. imposed tougher sanctions last month to punish it for conducting its third nuclear test, but the severity of the rhetoric reached a fever pitch in recent days.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the North's recent rhetoric presents a "real, clear danger" to the U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies.

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