S.Korea to seek China's support after deadly shelling

25th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

South Korea will seek cooperation from China and Russia in handling North Korea in the wake of the North's deadly artillery attack on a border island, Seoul's foreign minister said Thursday.

The South is weighing what support it will get from the two nations before deciding whether to refer Tuesday's attack to the United Nations Security Council.

Both are veto-wielding permanent council members and have closer ties with the North than other major countries. Earlier this year, China blocked efforts by South Korea and other nations to secure UN condemnation of North Korea over the sinking of one of Seoul's warships, the Cheonan.

"In light of the process responding to the Cheonan case, Chinese and Russian support is very vital," Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan said in a speech read by a senior ministry official during a meeting of an advisory panel.

The South, citing a multinational investigation, said the North sank the ship with a torpedo, a charge it denies. A UN statement condemned the attack without saying who was to blame.

China has not so far joined other world powers in blaming the North for the shelling, which killed four people.

Kim said it was the first time the North has shelled civilian areas in the South since the 1950-53 war. "This can never be tolerated. We will deal sternly with it," he said.

The shelling occurred day after the disclosure that the North has an apparently working uranium enrichment plant -- giving it a potential second way to build atomic bombs in addition to its plutonium operation.

Kim said the new programme should be part of the discussions if stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks resume.

"The government will seek a comprehensive and ultimate solution to all of North Korea's nuclear programmes, including its uranium enrichment programme, if six-party talks resume in the future," Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying.

Earlier Thursday Kim spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the shelling and the uranium enrichment programme. They agreed to work closely to handle tensions, the ministry said.

© 2010 AFP

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