Sunday, June 11, 2006

North Korea Warns South Korea Over Alleged Sea Border Intrusion

North Korea accused South Korea of making repeated intrusions into the North's western waters, and warned that its navy would retaliate against any warships that continue to enter its territory. The North's Navy Command claimed that the South Korean Navy had perpetrated grave military provocations by infiltrating its warships deep into the North's territorial waters near a disputed sea border. A spokesman for the Navy Command said it "will deal a telling blow at any warship intruding into the inviolable territorial waters of the north side without warning, and the South Korean authorities will be held wholly responsible for it." "The number of cases of such open intrusion by the South Korean navy reached more than 120 entering this year, increasing its danger as the days go by," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency. South Korea's Navy dismissed the North's statement as its "annual claims.""We didn't violate the North's territorial waters," said an official at the Navy's public relations office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy. The two divided Koreas are at odds over their western disputed border. In their latest high-level military talks in May, the two sides failed to resolve a dispute over whether their maritime border should be redrawn. The communist North doesn't recognize the current border, drawn up by the United Nations at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and claims it should be further south.The waters around the border are a rich fishing ground, and boats from the two Koreas routinely jostle for position during the May-June crab-catching season. In 1999 and 2002, their navies battled in the western sea, killing several sailors and sinking six ships. The two Koreas remain technically at war since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. However, relations have warmed significantly since a breakthrough 2000 summit.