Clinton urges global response to Pyongyang ‘provocation’ (Lead)

May 26th, 2010 - 4:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, May 26 (DPA) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Wednesday urged concerted international reaction to North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship.
Pyongyang’s destruction of the corvette Cheonan March 26 was an “unacceptable provocation by North Korea,” Clinton said on a visit to Seoul.

“The international community has a responsibility and a duty to respond,” she said after talks with her South Korean counterpart, Yun Myung Hwan.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen since the incident, for which North Korea, despite evidence to the contrary, has denied responsibility.

Clinton sought to make a case for a global response after her visit this week to China, North Korea’s only major diplomatic ally, whose leaders seemed reluctant to join in joint diplomatic action against Pyongyang.

The top US diplomat called the results of an international investigation into the sinking “overwhelming, the conclusion inescapable.” Those findings were released last week and concluded a submarine-fired North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

South Korea wants to bring the sinking before the UN Security Council, a move backed by the US, one of the veto-wielding permanent council members.

However, so are China and Russia, which also has friendly ties with North Korea, and their votes would be needed for passage of any council action against Pyongyang. Both states, however, have voted to impose sanctions in the past after North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

Clinton, who also met President Lee Myung Bak on her visit to Seoul, said the US government was considering its own action “to hold North Korea and its leaders accountable” but did not spell out what that action might be.

It might include the reinstatement of sanctions, including measures that severed Pyongyang’s access to the international financial system. Those restrictions were lifted to prod North Korea in talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programme.

Clinton also backed South Korea’s response to the sinking, which has included cutting off trade with North Korea.

For its part, Pyongyang said it would cut all ties with South Korea and threatened retaliation in case of punitive measures or sanctions.

Wednesday, it ordered eight South Korean officials to leave the North-South-operated industrial park in the border city of Kaesong. About 800 South Koreans work at the complex, where Southern companies employ more than 42,000 North Koreans, bringing in desperately needed foreign currency to the impoverished state.

The North’s Korean People’s Army also threatened to block access to Kaesong should the South restart propaganda announcements with loudspeakers at the border, as previously announced.

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