North Korea proposes talks to resolve defection row

March 7, 2011 08:44


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SEOUL - North Korea has proposed Red Cross talks to try to resolve a row over the fate of 31 of its nationals in South Korea, four of whom have said they want to defect, officials in the South said on Monday.

The South says the four, on a fishing boat that drifted into South Korean waters last month, would be allowed to stay, while the remainder would be sent back home.

"The government's official position is that the will of individuals must be respected," a Foreign Ministry official told a news briefing in Seoul.

The North has lashed out at its neighbor, accusing Seoul of forcing the North Koreans to defect against their will.

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