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Wed, 29 May 2013 09:26:32 CDT

r i BC-AS--NKorea-Defectors     05-29 0438
^Report: 9 NKorean defectors sent home from Laos<
^Eds: APNewsNow.<

     SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A news report says nine North Korean
defectors have been forced to return to their country from China
after being captured in Laos.

     South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a senior Foreign
Ministry official in Seoul as saying the defectors were flown home
Tuesday despite a South Korean request that China not repatriate
them. It said the unidentified official expressed strong regret
Wednesday over the Chinese decision.

     It said the defectors, aged between 15 and 23, fled to Laos
through China last month and were caught by Laotian authorities
earlier this month. Laos sent the defectors to China on Monday,
weeks after a Laotian delegation visited the North Korean capital.

     Yonhap said Laos has become a regular transit point for North
Korean defectors who hope to reach South Korea.


     (Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

     APDP 05-29-13 0925CDT<


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