Russia: N Korea suggests evacuating diplomats

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 5, 2013

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow doesn’t understand why North Korea has suggested that Moscow and other countries close their embassies in Pyongyang, and he says he’s concerned about the high tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted Friday during a visit to Uzbekistan as saying that Russia is in touch with China, the United States, Japan and South Korea — all members of a dormant talks process with North Korea — to try to figure out the motivation.

“We are very perturbed about the supercharged tensions, which for now are verbal. We want to understand the causes of this proposal,” Lavrov said, according to the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.

About two dozen countries have embassies in North Korea. A spokesman for the Russian embassy there, Denis Samsonov, told Russian media that the embassy was working normally.

Russia has appeared increasingly angry with North Korea as tensions roiled following a North Korean nuclear test and the country’s subsequent warnings to South Korea and the United States that it would be prepared to attack.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on Thursday strongly criticized North Korea for its “defiant neglect” of U.N. Security Council resolutions. A ministry statement Friday after the embassy evacuations proposal said “We are counting on maximum restraint and composure from all sides.”

A spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said his government was considering its next move in North Korea but that it regarded the North Korean suggestion to embassies as an effort to portray the United States as a threat.