North Korea on Friday warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it was unable to guarantee their safety after April 10 and they should consider evacuating their missions amid soaring nuclear tensions.
European countries with embassies in Pyongyang, such as Britain and Russia, reported receiving a warning advisory, as an increasingly bellicose North Korea moved two mid-range missiles to its east coast.
"Their communication said that from April 10, the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organisations in the country in the event of conflict," a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said.
"Our understanding is that the North Koreans were asking whether embassies are intending to leave, rather than advising them to leave," she said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow, which has relatively close ties with Pyongyang, was consulting with China over the warning, as well as the United States and other members of the stalled six-party talks on North Korea.
There were "many factors" that needed clarification, Lavrov said.
Bulgaria's foreign ministry said the chief of all EU missions in Pyongyang had agreed to meet Saturday to discuss a common position.
North Korea, incensed by UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks, and there has been growing international concern that the situation might spiral out of control.