S. Korea calls for caution to ship sinking

15:46, May 21, 2010      

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South Korea's president said Friday his country was caught in a "perfect military ambush" with the sinking of its naval warship in March, but he called for a cautious response to the disaster.

South Korea President Lee Myung-bak made the comments at an emergency national security meeting convened one day after an official report concluded that North Korea was responsible for deadly thinking of the patrol ship Cheonan.

Pyongyang has denied involvement and vowed "all-out war" in case of any moves to retaliate over the sinking.

"We were caught in a perfect military ambush by North Korea while our people were resting in the late hours," Lee said at the start of the meeting, according to the Associated Press.

Lee called the sinking a "military provocation" and said it violated the U.N. Charter as well as the truce that ended the fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War.

"Because this is a serious and important issue, I believe there must not be a single mistake in all of our responsive measures, and that we must be highly prudent," he said.

Discussion at the meeting focused on international cooperation, military readiness, inter-Korean relations and preparedness against unconventional threats from North Korea, spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said in the statement.

Military retaliation, however, is seen as too dangerous and not a serious option given the vulnerability of South Korea's capital, Seoul, and its 10 million some residents to North Korean artillery located just across the border, the AP report said.

Pyongyang, which has denied any role in the sinking, said "a war may break out right now" and that it "will regard the present situation as the phase of a war and decisively handle all matters arising in inter-Korean relations to cope with it."

It also vowed to react to any South Korean retaliation by halting cooperation with Seoul and abrogating a North-South non-aggression pact.

On Thursday, North Korean navy spokesman Col. Pak In Ho told broadcaster APTN in Pyongyang that any retaliation over the sinking would mean "all-out war."

Investigators in Seoul said torpedo parts found near the explosion site closely resemble a smaller, experimental torpedo that floated into South Korean waters in 2003 and match the schematics of a North Korean-made torpedo Pyongyang has tried to sell abroad.

However, Pak said any such evidence was fabricated.

"If there were indications that the sinking was our doing, then the whole thing is an act — theatrics by the South Koreans to implicate us," he told APTN.
North Korea has asked to send its own team to investigate the site.

Source: Agencies


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