North Korea offers rare thanks to US for help

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Seoul, Nov 9: North Korea offered a rare note of thanks to long-time foe the United States for helping its sailors fend off an attack by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

''We feel grateful to the United States for its assistance given to our crewmen,'' the North's official news agency said in a report late yesterday.

''This case serves as a symbol of the DPRK-US cooperation in the struggle against terrorism,'' it said.

DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In an incident in late October, the United States dispatched a destroyer to help a North Korean cargo ship, which had sent out a distress signal after it had been raided by pirates.

US sailors also help tend to wounded North Koreans.

North Korea's official media regularly blasts the United States military, charging it with being hostile to its leaders and planning an attack against it.

South Korean officials have told local media this unusual US-North Korean cooperation could help international talks to rid the North of nuclear weapons by showing the United states was willing to help North Koreans in danger.

Christopher Hill, the top US envoy to the nuclear talks, said last week: ''You will always find our Navy prepared to help any ship in distress. I hope the DPRK understands that we do this out of a sense of goodwill.''


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