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US and Japan condemn attack on South Korean vessel

Photo: Reuters

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada says a North Korean attack on a South Korean warship highlights the importance of US-Japan relations as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked off the first leg of her Asia tour in Japan. Both the US and Japan have condemned North Korea after investigators blamed it for sinking the South Korean warship.

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Investigators leading the mulitnational inquiry said that parts of a torpedo salvaged from the seabed match those used by the North. They also said that explosive residue found on the torpedo is the same as that found on the warship’s hull.

“North Korea surpassed the limits and for such an act we will make it pay,” Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young said.

North Korea responded on Friday with accusations that its neighbours had faked the evidence. It says it wants to send its own team of investigators to Seoul to make assessments.

The motive behind the attack is still unclear. Defence Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Hwang Won-Dong proposed the idea that the North was seeking revenge for a firefight close to the border last November.

He also suggested that they were looking to deflect attention away from their financial problems, strengthen internal solidarity and pressure Seoul into relaxing their cross-border policies.

The torpedo attack on the South Korean vessel claimed 46 lives with the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak calling the attack a breach of an armistice which ended the 1950-53 war. Although he has since stated that Seoul will moderate its response.

 

North Korea has threatened to respond to any retaliation with a “total freeze” of inter-Korean relations describing its current situation as “a phase of war.”

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