North Korea calls for evacuation of embassies

South Korean workers carry clothes, products from North Korea's Kaesong, from a van to another van after returning from there at Unification Bridge in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, Saturday, April 6, 2013. Since April 3, North Korean authorities have barred South Koreans from entering North Korea through the Demilitarized Zone to get to the Kaesong industrial complex where some 120 South Korean companies run factories employing North Korean workers. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean workers carry clothes, products from North Korea's Kaesong, from a van to another van after returning from there at Unification Bridge in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, Saturday, April 6, 2013. Since April 3, North Korean authorities have barred South Koreans from entering North Korea through the Demilitarized Zone to get to the Kaesong industrial complex where some 120 South Korean companies run factories employing North Korean workers. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) (Ahn Young-joon)
Posted: April 07, 2013

MOSCOW - North Korea has advised foreign diplomats to consider evacuating their embassies in Pyongyang in light of increasing tensions in the region, Russian and British diplomats said Friday.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told reporters traveling with him in Uzbekistan on Friday that Moscow was seeking more details about the statement before making a decision about whether to evacuate.

The British Foreign Office said its embassy "received a communication from the North Korean government this morning saying that the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the country in the event of conflict from April 10."

Lavrov said Russia was treating the statement as a suggestion and not an order. Some observers in Moscow called Friday's evacuation advice an obvious propaganda ploy. Russia's Foreign Ministry said North Korea has made the same proposal to other nations with diplomatic missions in Pyongyang.

The development comes at the end of a week of bellicose threats by the North Koreans against South Korea and the United States. South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing intelligence sources in South Korea, reported Friday that the North had moved intermediate-range rocket launchers to its eastern coast, putting Guam potentially within range of a strike, Reuters news service said.

Moscow is consulting with China, South Korea, the United States, and Japan over the evacuation proposal, the Foreign Ministry said. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington that the United States plans to remain prudent in the face of "an unpredictable regime and an unpredictable situation." The United States, which does not have an embassy in North Korea, is represented there by Sweden.

Some analysts in Russia - which shares a 10-mile border with North Korea - have suggested that the North has no intention of actually going to war but warn that as rhetoric continues to escalate, a conflict could ignite accidentally.

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