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World: North Korean Diplomats Defect To U.S.

  • Sonia Winter

Washington, 26 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. officials say two senior North Korean diplomats, reportedly carrying information about missile sales, have arrived in the United States seeking political asylum.

Our Washington correspondent says the U.S. State Department has declined to comment but a White House official is expected to say something about the issue later today.

Meanwhile, media reports, citing South Korean government sources, name one of the defectors as ambassador Jang Seung-il from North Korea's embassy in Egypt. The other is said to be his brother, a trade and economic official at North Korea's mission in France.

In what appears to be coordinated action, they disappeared from their posts with their families at the weekend. Unconfirmed reports said they were flown yesterday to the United States.

Officials in Seoul today said Jang is the most senior diplomat ever to defect from North Korea. They said he and his brother possess information about North Korea's missile sales to the Middle East.