North Korea silent on calls for release of South Koreans

SEOUL, Aug 6, 2009 (AFP) - North Korea stayed silent Thursday on whether it would return a South Korean fishing boat and crew.
Seoul's foreign ministry said Clinton appealed for the release of the four fishermen and another South Korean detainee during his talks in Pyongyang on Tuesday with leader Kim Jong-Il and other officials.

But when the two Koreas made contact Thursday through maritime communication channels, the North said only that it was still investigating the fishing boat incident, according to South Korea's unification ministry.

South Korea says the 29-ton squid fishing boat Yeonan drifted into the North's east coast waters a week ago due to a malfunctioning navigation system.

The North last Saturday said the boat had "illegally intruded" into its territorial waters.

"A relevant institution is conducting concrete investigation into it at present," North Korea’s official news agency said.

Unification ministry spokesman Chun Hae-Sung said South Korea would step up efforts to secure the release of its citizens held in the North.

Source: AFP

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