Fri, Jul 16, 2010 - Page 1 News List

N Korea wants to investigate site of ship sinking


North Korea’s military renewed its call for its own investigation into the March sinking of a South Korean warship as it met yesterday with the US-led UN Command for the first time since the incident raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

An international investigation in May concluded a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that sank the Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

At the talks, the North’s officers stressed that Pyongyang’s inspectors should be permitted to go to the site of the sinking to verify those results, state media said. Seoul has so far rejected the North’s request.

Colonel-level officers gathered yesterday at the border village of Panmunjom for about 90 minutes to discuss the hosting of higher-level talks on the sinking, the UN Command said in a statement. The two sides agreed to hold another colonel-level meeting in Panmunjom next week, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said.

Yesterday’s talks came a week after the UN Security Council approved a statement that condemned the sinking, but stopped short of directly blaming Pyongyang.

The UN Command, which oversees the armistice, separately investigated whether the sinking violated the truce, though the findings have not been disclosed.

Late last month, the command proposed military talks with the North to review its findings and initiate dialogue.

The North first rejected the offer, criticizing the US for allegedly trying to meddle in inter-Korean affairs. It reversed its position last week and proposed working-level talks at Panmunjom to prepare for talks at the general-officer level on the sinking.

Meanwhile, the US and South Korea will likely forge ahead soon with military exercises in the Yellow Sea despite China’s objections, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said on Wednesday.

The air and naval exercises, which had been delayed, are pending approval at a meeting next week in Seoul between US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and their South Korean counterparts, Morrell said.

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