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(LEAD) Spain vows close coordination with S. Korea on N.K. Embassy raid case: ministry

North Korea 16:06 April 04, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with controversy over displayed national flag, other details in last 4 paras; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- A top Spanish official pledged Thursday that his government will coordinate closely with South Korea, if necessary, in handling a recent raid on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid by a group of anti-Pyongyang activists.

Vice Foreign Minister Fernando Valenzuela delivered the message in the inaugural "strategic dialogue" with his South Korean counterpart, Cho Hyun, in Seoul, according to Kim In-chul, spokesman for Seoul's foreign ministry.

"Today, the Spanish side briefed (us) on the North Korean Embassy intrusion case," he told reporters.

While a related investigation is under way, Spain said it will talk closely with the South Korean government, if needed, in connection with the incident, he added.

South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun (R) shakes hands with his Spanish counterpart, Fernando Valenzuela, at the start of a strategic dialogue session in Seoul on April 4, 2019. (Yonhap)

A week ahead of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February, the activists intruded into the embassy and took communication devices, such as a computer, USB and mobile phone. They reportedly handed over some information to the FBI. A group calling itself Free Joseon claimed responsibility.

Spain's High Court said the intruders include U.S. and South Korean citizens. North Korea's foreign ministry described it as a "grave terrorist attack" and a violation of international law.

"We are following the rumors of all hues now in the air that (the) FBI of the United States and the small fry of (this) anti-DPRK 'body' were involved in the terror incident, and so on," an unnamed spokesman was quoted as saying by Pyongyang's state news agency, the KCNA.

A ministry official pointed out that South Korea and Spain have a couple of two-way pacts in place on the repatriation of criminals and police, and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The crumpled national flag of South Korea is on display at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Seoul on April 4, 2019. (Yonhap)

On a controversy over the crumpled national flag of South Korea, displayed at the venue for the foreign ministerial meeting, the official said it was a "mistake."

"(We) feel a sense of grave responsibility for failing to correct the mistake in a timely manner," he told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

He added the ministry will "take relevant measures," indicating that it would discipline officials involved.


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