S Korean president calls for stronger military following naval disaster

13:13, May 04, 2010      

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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday called for stronger military at an unprecedented meeting with the country's top military commanders, following a mysterious naval incident in late March that some say revealed a security hole.

At the meeting, which came several weeks after the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan sank into waters near a tense border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Lee vowed to take resolute measures against the culprit.

"What has been clear is that Cheonan's sinking wasn't just a simple accident," the president told 150 commanders from the Army, Navy and Air Force in a nationally broadcast speech. "I had a hunch that it was a grave international issue involving relations between South Korea and North Korea (DPRK)," he said, adding that he ordered the military authorities to seek international cooperation on the issue.

Investigators looking into the mysterious incident, said to be one of the worst peacetime tragedies, announced last month that a powerful external explosion at a close range, possibly caused by a torpedo or sea mine detonation, most likely caused the incident.

Pyongyang is widely speculated by local media here to have had a hand in the incident, despite its flat-out dismissal of the allegation.

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