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S. Korea in close talks with 'relevant nations' over N.K. defections

All Headlines 16:40 April 12, 2016

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Tuesday that it has experienced no trouble working with the "relevant nations" to bring North Korean defectors into the country, in an apparent reference to China and Southeast Asian countries.

Last week, 13 North Korean employees of a Pyongyang-run restaurant in China arrived in the South after traveling through a third country reportedly in Southeast Asia.

The mass defection sparked speculation over China's role in the process as Beijing usually repatriates any North Korean defectors within its borders.

On Monday, China's foreign ministry confirmed that the defectors left the country carrying legitimate passports.

Asked whether the South Korean government requested China's help in the process, Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

"There has been no trouble so far in our talks and cooperation with relevant nations," he said in a regular press briefing. "We are in close talks with relevant nations to help defectors come to South Korea if they so wish under humanitarian principles."

His remarks could be seen as an indication of the safety of several other North Korean employees of the same restaurant who were reportedly left behind in China.

hague@yna.co.kr
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