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UK Deputy PM To Meet N. Korean Defectors In Seoul

3/22/2012 3:18 AM ET

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will hold a rare meeting early next week with North Korean defectors settled in South Korea when he comes to Seoul to take part in a global nuclear summit, a British Embassy official said on Thursday.

Clegg, who is arriving in Seoul on Sunday, will meet Tuesday with five North Korean defectors who study English at the British Embassy, the official said.

"Deputy Prime Minister Clegg has invited the five North Korean refugees to a dinner meeting with him on Tuesday," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the official as saying.

The official declined to comment on the purpose of the planned meeting, but it comes as South Korea has stepped up diplomatic campaigns to urge China not to send North Korean defectors back to their Communist homeland where they could face harsh punishment.

The British Embassy in Seoul offered English language education to North Korean defectors to help them better adapt to the South Korean society.

South Korea is home to more than 23,000 North Korean defectors, with the number rising noticeably in recent years. Many lack English language skills, which can seriously disadvantage them in competition with their South Korean counterparts.

by RTT Staff Writer

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