Foreign experts to sign off on Cheonan probe: Lee

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Foreign experts to sign off on Cheonan probe: Lee

President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday his administration has requested international experts to jointly sign the official report on what sunk the Navy ship Cheonan.

Meeting with leaders of the country’s three largest political parties at the Blue House yesterday, Lee discussed the Cheonan’s sinking and his government’s follow-up measures. Grand National Chairman Chung Mong-joon, Democratic Chairman Chung Sye-kyun and Liberty Forward Chairman Lee Hoi-chang joined the president for the luncheon.

“We have asked the American, Swedish, Australian and British experts to sign the report,” President Lee was quoted as saying by his spokesman Park Sun-kyoo. “We asked Sweden to join the probe because it is a neutral state. We believed the participation by a neutral state would enhance the international community’s trust in the probe.”

Lee also told the three political leaders of the government’s determination to thoroughly investigate the tragedy and identify the cause. “We are preparing for various possibilities, but it is not the time yet to draw conclusions,” Lee was quoted as saying.

“Soon, it will be determined whether the North was involved or not,” Park Sun-young, spokeswoman for the conservative Liberty Forward Party, also quoted Lee as saying.

According to the Blue House, the president also said the military needs to reform because its shortcomings have been revealed in the tragedy. However, he said now is not the time to reprimand those responsible for lapses. Lee said it was important to consider the best time, in terms of national security, to reproach the military.

Lee also told the political leaders that the administration will not exploit the Cheonan’s sinking in the June 2 local elections campaign. “If I wanted to take advantage of it, I would have talked about possible North Korean involvement,” Lee said. “I am dealing with the incident prudently in order to not politicize the incident, and I hope the opposition parties understand my effort.”

Yesterday’s summit among the political leaders was the first in a year. President Lee and the ruling and opposition parties’ heads met in April last year to discuss the security situation after North Korea fired a long-range rocket.

By Ser Myo-ja []
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