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S Korea urges N Korea to apologise

world Updated: Jul 10, 2010 10:31 IST

AFP
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South Korea on Saturday urged North Korea to apologise over the sinking of one of its warships, after the United Nations condemned the attack but stopped short of blaming it on the communist North.

The South's defence ministry, meanwhile, 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.

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a statement deploring the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in March, with the loss of 46 lives.

The declaration underscored "the importance of preventing such further attacks or hostilities against (South Korea)," and praised Seoul for the "restraint" it has shown since the attack.

South Korea's foreign ministry said it welcomed the UN's stance.

"The Security Council's statement is greatly significant as the international community condemned North Korea's attack on the Cheonan with one voice and emphasised the importance of preventing further provocations" against the South, it said.

"The government urges the North to respect the spirit of the statement, clearly accept its responsibility and apologise."

A defence ministry spokesman said South Korea would go ahead with a naval exercise with the United States in the Yellow Sea despite protests from China.

"There is no change in our position to conduct the joint military exercise," the spokesman told AFP, hours after the UN Security Council statement was issued.

"However, the date and methods have not yet been decided," he said.

Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified high-ranking military official as saying Saturday that a US aircraft carrier was likely to take part in the drill.

China on Thursday warned the United States and South Korea against holding the war games near its waters, and urged them not to add to tensions with its ally North Korea.

The South, citing the findings of a multinational investigation, accuses the North of torpedoing the warship.

Pyongyang has angrily denied responsibility and threatened a "do or die" battle in response to any censure at the United Nations over the incident.

The drill was originally set for last month but was delayed until the UN Security Council wrapped up discussions on the sinking.

The South announced its own non-military reprisals against the North, including a partial trade ban, and also urged the Security Council to censure Pyongyang.

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