SKorea fires warning shots at NKorean boats near border

SKorea fires warning shots at NKorean boats near border

Tensions flare around inter-Korean maritime border as Seoul stands firm on rejection of dialogue with Pyongyang

By Alex Jensen

SEOUL (AA) - South Korea’s navy warned away a pair of North Korean boats Friday, after they reportedly crossed the tense de facto maritime border between the two sides -- representing the first such incursion since early February when the North had just carried out widely condemned nuclear and rocket tests.

The fishing boat and accompanying patrol vessel retreated in the wake of warning shots early in the morning, according to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

While both Koreas guard their western sea border, or Northern Limit Line, Pyongyang does not officially recognize the demarcation line and numerous clashes in the area have threatened to reignite the 1950-53 Korean War.

The peninsula is currently in a state of limbo with Seoul rejecting repeated requests for dialogue from North Korea since the reclusive state held a party congress earlier this month.

The landmark political event appeared to signal the end of a series of provocations, as the North had continued to attempt ballistic missile tests even after being hit by strengthened United Nations sanctions in March.

South Korean Unification Minister Hong Young-pyo maintained Friday that punitive measures are the “best prescription” to induce Pyongyang to denuclearize.

A day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Koreas to find a way to hold talks, Hong insisted in an interview with local broadcaster SBS that “it is not the time” for communication.

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