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World

US journalists face criminal trial in North Korea

North Korea has announced that two US journalists arrested last month on its border with China are to be put on trial to face criminal charges.

Euna Lee (left) and Laura Ling (right)

Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling, right, were detained by North Korean security officials March 17 2009.

"Our related agency has decided to turn the US reporters over for trial based on findings of their crimes," the North's KCNA news agency reported, without giving further details.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested on March 17 near the Tumen River, which runs along the border between North Korea and China, while reporting on North Korean refugees for San Francisco-based Current-TV.

North Korea has accused them of illegally entering its territory with "hostile" intent.

The Associated Press reports the journalists could face at least five years in prison if they are convicted of espionage under North Korean law.

The planned trial comes as the reclusive state faces UN Security Council condemnation for its April 5 launch of a long-range rocket, which regional powers say was a ballistic missile test.

Frustration with North Korea has grown after Pyongyang said it would cancel all agreements to dismantle its nuclear program and quit six-party disarmament talks with South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday Washington was willing to have a dialogue with Pyongyang but urged the world not to give in to its unpredictable behavior.

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