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North, South Korea at Odds Over Territorial Waters Violation - 2002-07-10


North Korea accused South Korean warships of violating its territorial waters Wednesday morning. The dispute comes less than two weeks after a deadly sea battle along the two nations' disputed maritime border.

Pyongyang says that South Korea is engaging in premeditated provocation by sending two naval vessels into the North's waters early Wednesday.

North Korea is accusing Seoul of escalating tensions in the Yellow Sea. The South has flatly denied any violation.

The latest charges come less than two weeks after a bloody naval clash between the two nations on June 29. Four South Korean sailors and an unknown number of North Koreans were killed during the skirmish in the Yellow Sea. Each side blames the other for the battle, the worst maritime conflict between the two Koreas since 1999.

Last week, South Korea revised its rules of engagement to allow its navy to respond more quickly to an armed attack.

The two countries disagree on the demarcation of their western sea boundary, which was designated by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War fighting in 1953. The two sides remain technically at war, never having signed a peace agreement.

But Indonesia has expressed hope it can help ease tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula. North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Young Nam, arrived in Jakarta Wednesday for talks with President Megawati Sukarnoputri and other leaders.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry officials say their nation is willing to sponsor a new inter-Koreas dialogue if Seoul and Pyongyang want help.

Mr. Kim's arrival in Jakarta comes three months after the Indonesian president visited both North and South Korea. Indonesia and the isolated communist state have maintained strong ties since the 1960s.

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