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(3rd LD) Laos changes attitude over defector issue at last minute: source
(ATTN: CHANGES dateline; UPDATES with UNHCR's confirmation of deportation in last 3 paras)
SEOUL/GENEVA, May 31 (Yonhap) -- A high-level Laotian official gave South Korea a positive impression over an issue involving nine North Korean defectors even hours before his government deported them to their home country earlier this week, a diplomatic source here said Friday, giving to suspicion of a cover-up over the deportation.

South Korean ambassador to Laos Lee Gun-tae met with the unidentified vice minister-level official of the Laotian Foreign Ministry on Monday at 9:30 a.m. to repeatedly call for the transfer of the defectors. The official indicated that the situation would come to a smooth solution, the source said, asking not to be named.
However, the defectors were expelled aboard a flight at 2:45 p.m. the same day to North Korea via China, according to the source.





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