UN chief urges North, South Korea to halt escalating tensions

 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged North and South Korea to put a halt to a worrying escalation of tensions on the divided peninsula.

UN chief urges North, South Korea to halt escalating tensions

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged North and South Korea to put a halt to a worrying escalation of tensions on the divided peninsula.

Ban "urges the parties to refrain from taking any further measures that might increase tensions," said his spokeswoman Eri Kaneko.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un put his frontline troops on a war footing on Friday, a day after an exchange of artillery fire across the demilitarized border that put the South Korean army on maximum alert.

Ban, who served as South Korea`s foreign minister from 2004 to 2006, said he was "deeply concerned" by the developments and called for dialogue to reduce tensions.

Tensions were already on high-simmer before the shelling, following mine blasts that maimed two members of a South Korean border patrol this month and the launch Monday of a major South Korea-US military exercise that infuriated Pyongyang.

North Korea wrote to the UN Security Council this week to again request an urgent meeting on the military exercises, but diplomats said nothing was planned.

The exercise, which will run until August 28, is largely a computer simulation of a North Korean attack, but still involves 50,000 Korean and 30,000 US soldiers.

North Korea`s Deputy UN Ambassador An Myong Hun scheduled a news conference at UN headquarters for 2000 GMT.

The 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce but not a peace treaty, which means that the two Koreas technically remain at war.

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