LONDON (AFP) - Britain said on Friday it had no immediate plans to withdraw its diplomats from North Korea but said it was discussing its next moves with its international partners amid escalating nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.
"We are consulting international partners about these developments. No decisions have been taken, and we have no immediate plans to withdraw our embassy," the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday Britain and several other European countries with embassies in Pyongyang said they had been told by North Korean authorities to consider evacuating their diplomats.
The North Korean foreign ministry had told diplomatic missions it was “unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organisations present in the country in the event of conflict", a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
“They invited the embassies and organisations present at the meeting to inform them by 10 April what assistance they would require from the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) should they wish to be evacuated from DPRK or to be relocated elsewhere,” the spokeswoman added.
The Foreign Office condemned North Korea’s intensifying warnings of nuclear war as “provocations", and urged Pyongyang to “work constructively with the international community, including over the presence of foreign embassies”.
Russia, which has relatively close ties with the North Korean regime, also received the notice and is in close contact with partners including China over its implications, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“The suggestion was made to all embassies in Pyongyang and we are trying to clarify the situation,” Russian news agencies quoted Mr Lavrov as saying on a visit to Uzbekistan.
The diplomatic escalation of the crisis came as an increasingly bellicose North Korea moved two mid-range missiles to its east coast.
The regime of young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has issued apocalyptic threats in recent weeks, incensed by fresh UN sanctions as well as joint military drills by the US and South Korea.