No response from N Korea on S Korea's request to release fishing boat

     North Korea has not responded to South Korea 's request to release its fishing boat-Daeseung 55, including its four fishermen and three Chinese crew members, which was seized in waters off the divided peninsula's eastern coast on Sunday amid heightened tensions over the sinking of a southern navy ship. "There's been no notification from the DPRK side regarding the incident. Our side has not taken new moves either other than urging the DPRK authorities to set the crew members free in accordance with the international law and practice," the New York Times quoted Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung, as saying. Earlier, a South Korean Coast Guard statement said that the 41-ton boat was believed to have been detained after entering the North's exclusive economic zone, where foreign fishing boats are banned. The crew members who were aboard the squidding vessel were questioned for an alleged violation of the North's exclusive economic zone and the fishing boat was being taken toward the North Korea 's eastern port of Songjin , the statement said. Inter-Korean relations have plunged to their lowest point in years since a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, was sunk in Marchthis year killing 46 sailors. A South Korean investigation attributed the sinking to a North Korean torpedo. The North has denied responsibility and called the accusation a justification for warmongering by South Korea and its main ally, the United States . As part of the aftermath of the Cheonan attack, the South Korean military has been conducting a major naval exercise off of the west coast of the divided peninsula, involving 4,500 troops and over two dozen ships. An angry Pyongyang has said earlier that it would respond with "strong physical retaliation" and had warned civilian vessels to stay clear of the maritime border between the two Koreas.

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