North and South Korea will address the UN Security Council separately on Monday over the deadly sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March that has raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula, an official said yesterday.
South Korea had been expected to brief the security council some time this week on an international investigation into the sinking of the corvette Cheonan on March 26 that killed 46 sailors. Seoul has accused North Korea of torpedoing the ship.
North Korea asked Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, the Council’s rotating president, for a separate briefing session, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun told a briefing in Seoul.
“It’s our understanding that such an opportunity has been granted,” Kim said.
Mounting antagonism between the two countries has worried investors, concerned about the prospect of armed conflict breaking out in the region, and set off a diplomatic scramble on all sides to cool tensions.
Many analysts say neither side is ready to go to war, but see the possibility of more skirmishes in a disputed sea border off the west coast or along their heavily armed border.
South Korea accused the North of violating the spirit of a landmark joint declaration struck by then-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il 10 years ago pledging peace.
That summit in Pyongyang led to warming ties between the rivals, including a growing trade relationship that has since been put on ice.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak cut aid to the destitute neighbor when he took office two years ago, and demanded that Pyongyang drop its nuclear ambitions. That move angered the North.
Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said in Seoul the North must admit to its role in the naval attack and apologize if it wants to see the ties reinstated.
Pyongyang has denied involvement in the Cheonan’s sinking, saying accusations against it were part of a US-led conspiracy and threatened war if Seoul imposes sanctions.
A team of international investigators, which was led by South Korea’s military, said last month that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the ship, presenting evidence that included parts of the weapon recovered from the site of the incident.
Yesterday, North Korea repeated its threat to blow up loudspeakers South Korea has set up along the border to broadcast anti-Pyongyang propaganda, keeping tensions on the peninsula at their highest in years.
The US, the South’s biggest ally, said Seoul may not seek a full Security Council resolution because of rising tensions after the sinking of the Cheonan.
The government in Seoul, however, said it would hold discussions with its allies to ensure action was taken.