Seoul set to present evidence at UN

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Seoul set to present evidence at UN

Seoul diplomats are waiting to see whether China and Russia will attend today’s UN Security Council briefing at which South Korea will present its evidence that North Korea attacked and sank the Cheonan warship on March 26 - the first step to garnering international support to reprimand Pyongyang.

South Korean officials and foreign experts who took part in the monthlong investigation into the cause of the disaster will present their evidence to the 15 member countries of the Security Council at United Nations headquarters in New York today.

The South has struggled to earn international support to officially reprimand Pyongyang, but its efforts have been met with lukewarm responses from Beijing and Moscow - permanent members of the UN Security Council and allies of North Korea.

According to a senior Seoul diplomat yesterday, Claude Heller, the president of the Security Council and Mexican ambassador to the UN, said that China has agreed to at least the schedule of the briefing, which will begin at 3 p.m. New York time.

Some 10 South Korean military officials and experts, along with experts from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and Sweden, will present the evidence they have collected to the council member countries and answer their questions. Park In-kook, South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, will also attend the briefing.

“The UN Security Council’s discussion [on the issue] begins with the investigative team’s briefing,” said a senior South Korean government official who asked for anonymity.

Discussions at the UN Security Council are comprised of formal meetings and informal consultations. Today’s briefing is considered an “interactive dialogue” that will help set the tone of the upcoming meetings and consultations. “We think that there will likely be one formal meeting this week, which will be an important turning point to set the tone [of the discussions] down the road,” said the official.

Seoul’s immediate goal is getting the UN Security Council to address the attack in as strong terms as possible, whether by an official resolution or less-binding presidential statement.

Washington has backed Seoul’s efforts for a “unified voice” against Pyongyang, while Russia and Beijing have shown less enthusiasm.

Russia, which sent its own blast and submarine experts to Seoul earlier this month to review the results of the South Korean investigation, is expected to make its own conclusion in July, according to a senior Kremlin official quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

China, which has deep economic and political ties with both Koreas, is in a trickier position, juggling growing pressure from Seoul to join criticism of Pyongyang and risking political tensions with the neighboring North. According to senior Seoul officials, Beijing is worried that allowing the UN council to reprimand Pyongyang would backfire, causing turbulence in Northeast Asia.


By Jung Ha-won [hawon@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

14일 남.북한 연이어 천안함 설명회


남북한이 14일(현지시간) 유엔안전보장이사회 15개 회원국 앞에서 천안함 침몰사건을 놓고 외교적 공방을 벌이게 됐다.

우리 측 민.군 합동조사단이 이날 오후 3시 뉴욕의 유엔본부에서 천안함 사고 조사 결과를 안보리 이사국에 공개 브리핑하고 나면 곧바로 북한 측도 자신의 입장을 설명할 예정이다.

당초 우리 측의 브리핑 일정만 잡혔을 때에는 이번 사건에 대한 북한의 책임을 물으면서 안보리가 강력한 제재를 취해줄 것을 요청하는 형식이 될 것으로 보였지만 북한 측도 설명할 기회를 갖게됨에 따라 일방적인 규탄 모양새를 취하기는 어려울 것으로 보인다.

안보리 상임이사국 가운데 중국과 러시아 등은 그동안의 설득에도 우리 측 입장에 대한 지지를 표명하지 않아 남북한의 브리핑 과정에서 이사국들의 편들기 상황이 발생할 가능성도 배제할 수 없다.

우리 측은 물론 미국, 일본 등 동맹국들과 긴밀히 공조하면서 이번 천안함 사건의 책임이 북한에 있다는 점을 그동안 밝혀진 여러 증거를 제시하며 설명할 계획이다.


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