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S Korean Navy ship rescues N Korean soldier: Report

Last Updated: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:27

Seoul: South Korea`s Navy rescued a North Korean soldier who ended up in the South`s waters while fishing and the man wants to be returned home, a report said on Monday.
The soldier was found in the waters off the Korean peninsula`s west coast in the area where the North and South Korean navies engaged in a brief but deadly gunbattle several weeks ago, South Korea`s Yonhap news agency said.

Yonhap cited an unidentified government official as saying the man told investigators that he was fishing when his boat drifted into South Korean waters. He was questioned and cleared of possible espionage allegations, the report said.

The soldier asked to be sent back to North Korea, the report said.

Officials at the Defence Ministry and National Intelligence Service in Seoul said they could not immediately confirm the report.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

North and South are divided by a heavily-fortified land border, but North Korea disputes the western maritime border drawn by the United Nations decades ago.

The western waters, a prized fishing spot for both Koreas, have been the site of three deadly naval clashes in the past decade. One North Korean officer was killed and three others wounded in the latest gunfight, according to the South Korean military.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high this year, with North Korea carrying out nuclear and missile tests.

However, impoverished, isolated North Korea has reached out recently to Seoul and Washington. President Barack Obama is to send a special envoy to Pyongyang next week to try to entice the North to return to international nuclear disarmament talks.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:27

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