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U.N. chief calls for ‘peaceful dialogue’

UNITED NATIONS  >> U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday condemned North Korea’s artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeongpyeong Island and conveyed his concerns to the Security Council’s president.

Ban called the attack “one of the gravest incidents since the end of the Korean War,” his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

The island is near the Koreas’ disputed sea border. The attack killed at least two South Korean marines, set dozens of buildings ablaze and sent civilians fleeing for shelter.

Nesirky said Ban called for “immediate restraint” and insisted that “any differences should be resolved by peaceful means and dialogue.”

The secretary-general “has conveyed his utmost concern to the president of the Security Council,” Nesirky said.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, whose country holds the council president, said heading into a regularly scheduled meeting on Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and the Middle East, that “There is no formal request for a meeting” on the Koreas.

Later, as he left the session, Lyall Grant said he brought up the issue of the Koreas before the meeting ended, but there was no decision about discussing the issue in depth. The ambassador also said he was in contact with key countries worried about the clash, including the United States and China.

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