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South Korea steps up campaign over ship sinking

As tensions build with North Korea, South Korean soldiers Monday visit a monument to the Korean War in Seoul.

Associated Press

As tensions build with North Korea, South Korean soldiers Monday visit a monument to the Korean War in Seoul.

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea broadened efforts Monday to convince the world and its own public that North Korea sank one of its warships, sharing evidence with Russian torpedo experts and preparing a special briefing for influential bloggers and Twitter personalities.

The persuasion campaign coincided with military exercises in which thousands of South Korean troops practiced fending off an attack from the North near the rivals' tense border. The drill, which the army said was routine and unrelated to the ship attack, involved building and defending pontoon bridges that scores of tanks used to cross a river as helicopters buzzed overhead.

The South is lobbying for support for action by the United Nations against the North, blamed for torpedoing the Cheonan warship and killing 46 sailors in March. Winning Moscow's backing would be vital because Russia is a veto-holding permanent Security Council member and a traditional ally of North Korea, which denies attacking the ship.

The Russian team received a briefing on the Cheonan inquiry, conducted by a multinational group of investigators. It was scheduled to examine the site of the alleged attack before finishing its report June 7.

If the Russians endorse the findings, it could be key to getting Beijing to support South Korea's bid for sanctions. China is another longtime North Korean ally and permanent council member.

The South Koreans shared the investigation's findings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last weekend, but Beijing has yet to blame North Korea or support any potential U.N. action.

On Monday, Wen met with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who said Tokyo strongly supports Seoul's plans to bring North Korea before the U.N. Security Council for sanctions or condemnation.

In South Korea, the Defense Ministry said it would invite 70 Twitter users, bloggers and university students to view the wreckage — the first time ordinary citizens will be allowed to inspect the ship's remains.

South Korea steps up campaign over ship sinking 05/31/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 31, 2010 10:14pm]
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