ASEM: ‘Deep concern’ over sinking of Cheonan

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ASEM: ‘Deep concern’ over sinking of Cheonan


Leaders and foreign ministers from Asia and the European Union pose for a photo with Belgian King Albert (front row center) during an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels on Monday. European and Asian leaders will try to narrow differences over representation on the IMF at talks intended to break down barriers between countries representing more than half the world’s population. [REUTERS/YONHP]

BRUSSELS - Asian and European leaders at the Asia-Europe Meeting are expected to express “deep concern” over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March, apparently caused by a North Korean torpedo attack, and will demand that similar attacks be prevented, a diplomatic source said yesterday.

In a statement that will summarize the results of the two-day ASEM, the leaders also plan to urge North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program in a “complete, verifiable [and] irreversible” way, said the source familiar with the meeting’s progress.

North Korea was not invited to the eighth ASEM in Brussels but its closest ally China is a member.

The document also says ASEM leaders recognize South Korea’s efforts to provide the flood-hit North with rice and other humanitarian aid, while noting an inter-Korean agreement to resume the reunion of families separated by the Korean War, the source said, requesting anonymity.

“The leaders will express hope that such steps will lead to sincere dialogue and cooperation between the two Koreas,” it said.

North Korea will not be directly mentioned regarding the Cheonan sinking, the source said.

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