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S.Korea says no apology planned for anti-North demo
( 2003-08-25 10:58) (Agencies)

South Korea said on Monday it did not intend to apologize to Pyongyang over an anti-North demonstration at the world student games, despite a threat by North Korea to pull out of the games unless Seoul took action.

Sunday's protest, which ended in violence, came just before a crucial meeting in Beijing from August 27-29, where diplomats from North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan will discuss the North's nuclear weapons program.

"We do not plan to apologize to the North about the protest," said a spokesman for the presidential Blue House.

The fighting erupted in the South Korean city of Taegu, which is hosting the student games, after four North Korean journalists confronted a dozen activists protesting outside the main media center against human rights abuses in the North.

More than 100 riot police battled to restore order after the North Korean delegates clashed with demonstrators waving banners denouncing the North's leader, Kim Jong-il, and pictures of starving North Korean babies. At least one protester was hurt.

"We will have little choice but to reconsider our participation in the games if these kinds of anti-North Korean protests continue," North Korean delegation chief Jeon Kuk-man told reporters at the weekend.

"We demand that the South Koreans apologize and properly punish those responsible. They must also guarantee that such incidents will not occur again."

But a spokesman for the university games said he had not heard of any plans by the North Korean athletes to leave.

"We were not notified of plans for the North Koreans to leave Taegu. The North Korean athletes will commit to their schedule," the official said.

This is the second time North Korea has threatened to pull out of the games and demanded a full apology from South Korea.

North Korea had threatened to boycott the games after demonstrations in Seoul, where activists burned the North Korean flag and a poster of Kim Jong-il. The threat passed after an apology from South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

Athletes from both countries marched together behind a flag showing a borderless Korea at Thursday's opening ceremony of the university games.

The two countries remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce, rather than a full peace treaty.

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