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Clinton to pay tribute to SKorean sailors

world Updated: Jul 11, 2010 08:36 IST

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates will pay their respects to 46 South Korean sailors killed when their warship was sunk in March, a report said on Sunday.

Clinton and Gates are scheduled to attend a joint meeting of the foreign and defence ministers from the two countries in Seoul on July 21 amid regional tensions over the sinking of the Cheonan.

South Korea, citing the findings of a multinational investigation, accuses the North of torpedoing the warship but Pyongyang has angrily denied responsibility.

Yonhap news agency quoted a government source as saying Clinton and Gates would visit Seoul's war memorial to pay tribute to United Nations troops killed in the Korean War and to the 46 South Korean sailors.

In a statement Friday, the UN Security Council condemned the March attack without specifying the culprit.

South Korea along with its ally the United States and several other countries had urged the United Nations to censure the North for the sinking but China resisted such a move.

North Korea said the statement exposes the "foolish calculation" of the United States and South Korea in bringing the issue to the UN, warning of "strong physical retaliation" if they press on with countermeasures over the sinking.

But Pyongyang said it was willing in principle to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks, stalled since it quit them in April 2009.

The South's defence ministry said there was no change to its plan to carry out a joint naval exercise with the United States in the Yellow Sea, despite objections from China.