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North Korea Rejects Border Talks

December 23, 1998

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea today rejected a proposal by the American-led U.N. Command for border talks to discuss the sinking of a suspected communist spy boat in South Korean waters.

The 12-ton North Korean boat went down off South Korea’s south coast Friday in a gun battle with South Korean navy ships.

The U.N. command, acting on a South Korean request, proposed to North Korea on Monday that military generals from both sides meet in the truce village of Panmunjom to protest what the Seoul government considered a ``grave military provocation.″

In a news release today announcing the rejection, the command said North Korea was obliged by previous agreement to discuss possible violations of the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

South Korea said the craft was on a mission to land spies. North Korea accused the South of fabricating the incident.

With the help of the United States, South Korea keeps close watch on the North with camera-equipped satellites and spy planes and communications intercepts. Lacking such sophisticated tools, North Korea has countered in the past by trying to place spies in the South via land and sea routes.

The North Korean boat, believed to be carrying up to eight crewmen, was first spotted as it approached a port on the South’s south coast. It was pursued for hours by South Korean warships before it was sunk in a gun battle.

The lack of a peace treaty between the two Koreas leaves them technically in a state of war.

Update hourly