di Fausto Cicciò
Tokyo, April 5 - The Italian embassy in Seoul told ANSA Friday that fewer than 10 Italians were in Pyongyang, North Korea following the Communist government's announcement there for foreign diplomatic missions to begin evacuating staff amid growing tension on the Korean peninsula. "We are in close contact with them, just as we have been in recent days. Their safety is guaranteed," said Sergio Mercuri, adding that international diplomats had yet to be evacuated. Earlier in the day South Korea said two warships deployed this week to monitor the situation in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea were now in operation after the North reportedly moved at least one mid-range missile to its east coast. Pyongyang has been steadily increasing the tone of its rhetoric in recent days with repeated threats of war against the South in response to joint military exercises with the United States that began last month. On Tuesday North Korea announced that it would be reactivating its nuclear reactors at the Yongbyon complex and then blocked South Koreans from crossing the border to work at the jointly run Kaesong industrial zone, prompting Moscow to describe the situation as "explosive". Italians living in North Korea are mostly involved in humanitarian missions.