G-8 countries confirm Seoul’s Cheonan stance

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G-8 countries confirm Seoul’s Cheonan stance

The Group of Eight countries castigated North Korea for its alleged role in the fatal March 26 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, saying it “deplored” the attack and called for “appropriate measures to be taken against those responsible.”

In a joint statement released after a June 25-26 summit of the richest countries in the world in Huntsville, Canada, the eight leaders said: “Such an incident is a challenge to peace and security in the region and beyond.”

They also endorsed the Korean government-led probe that concluded Pyongyang sunk the warship with a torpedo, killing 46 sailors.

“We support the Republic of Korea [South Korea] in its efforts to seek accountability for the Cheonan incident ... We demand that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [the North] refrain from committing any attacks or threatening hostilities against the Republic of Korea,” said the leaders.

South Korea referred the case to the United Nations Security Council in early June, and is trying to get an official condemnation of Pyongyang for the March 26 attack. That goal has become increasingly elusive because China and Russia - permanent members of the council - have been reluctant to side with Seoul. President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan were busy this weekend trying to persuade their counterparts in the G-8 and G-20 to help. According to local media reports, Russia was the only country opposed to language directly criticizing the North.

The statement from the G-8 nations - France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the United States, Russia and Canada - also expressed “gravest concern” about the communist country’s nuclear ambitions. They demanded North Korea “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as proliferation activities.”

The G-8 also said it was “profoundly concerned” about Iran’s nuclear program. “We call upon Iran to heed the requirements of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the leaders said, “and implement relevant resolutions to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”

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