Foreign embassies still in Pyongyang despite warning: Seoul officials

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Foreign embassies still in Pyongyang despite warning: Seoul officials

Despite North Korea's recent warning to foreign diplomatic missions to leave Pyongyang, no embassy has yet to make a move out of the communist state, Seoul officials said Saturday.

"We don't believe there's any foreign mission about to leave Pyongyang," one South Korean government official said. "Most foreign governments view the North Korean message as a way of ratcheting up tension on the Korean Peninsula."

According to media reports Friday, which have since been confirmed by Seoul and Washington, North Korea's foreign ministry asked embassies based in Pyongyang to leave, saying a war could break out soon and the safety of foreigners is not guaranteed.

South Korean officials said they were trying to analyze specific details and intentions of North Korea's message and added that Seoul wanted to handle the situation in a calm manner.

Officials said they believed it was merely the latest propaganda campaign by North Korea.

"North Korea is perhaps saying it's going to be an enemy, not North Korea, that will launch an attack," one government official said. "This appears to be a propaganda war to dump responsibility for the instability on the peninsula on the U.S."

Another official noted that North Korea has been "consistent" in its pattern.

"This looks to be their strategy to deliver the message that, 'We're developing nuclear weapons because the Americans are putting pressure on us," the official said.

Earlier, the State Department in Washington confirmed media reports of the North's message to the missions.

The British government said it had no immediate plans to move its officials out of Pyongyang. The State Department said the U.S. Embassy in Seoul sent a message to U.S. citizens in South Korea that there was no specific information to suggest an imminent threat from the North. [Yonhap]
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