4 Apr 2013

NZ frigate visit to Korea still on

8:25 pm on 4 April 2013

A visit by a New Zealand frigate to Korea is to proceed for now, despite escalating political tension in the area.

The Navy frigate Te Mana is due to visit the South Korean port of Inchon in mid-May.

It left Auckland in February to undertake training exercises as part of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.

North Korea declared it was in a 'state of war' with the South last week, but a spokesperson for New Zealand's Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said on Thursday it is too early to make a decision on whether or not the visit will take place.

The spokesperson said the Defence Force is keeping a close eye on the situation and a decision would be made closer to the time.

On Wednesday, the United States has announced it is moving an advanced missile defence system to the Pacific island of Guam as North Korea steps up its warlike rhetoric.

A statement from Pyongyang said its military had been given final approval to launch a nuclear strike.

The North has repeatedly threatened to target the US and South Korea in recent weeks following UN sanctions imposed after its latest nuclear test in February this year.