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Russia backs N Korea at G-8

world Updated: Jun 22, 2010 15:09 IST
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Russia has demanded that other member countries of the upcoming G-8 summit remove the words blaming North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean warship from a draft of the meeting's statement, a Japanese government source has said.

Russia is basing its request on its own investigation into the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in which 46 sailors died, saying it has yet to reach an official conclusion, according to the source.

The issue may become a major point of contention at the summit starting in Canada from Friday as Japan and the United States, which have supported South Korea since it announced last month that a multinational probe had found that a North Korean torpedo was responsible for the incident.

Canada, which chairs the G-8 summit, presented participating countries in mid-June with a draft of a joint statement on security issues in which North Korea was blamed for causing the deadly sinking, the source said.

While Japan and the United States approved the draft, Russia called for eliminating the wording, saying there is no clear evidence that the incident was caused by the North. The result of Russia's own investigation, begun at the end of May, is expected after the G-8 summit.

A senior official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry said, "Russia appears to be focusing on the UN Security Council, which has a greater say than the summit meeting."

Japan and the United States declared their support for South Korea soon after the multinational team of investigators, which included the South Korean military and private-sector experts, announced May 20 that the deadly sinking was caused by a North Korean torpedo, and the two countries have been planning to take up the issue at the G-8 summit.