North Korea asks UN support for ship incident probe
North Korea on Wednesday requested the UN Security Council's support for its investigation of the explosion of a South Korea navy vessel in March, diplomats said.
South Korea, backed by the United States, has accused the north of torpedoing its ship after conducting an investigation and has asked the 15-nation council in New York to take action against North Korea. Fourty-four crew members died in the attack, DPA reported.
North Korea, which has strongly rejected the accusation, wanted international backing to investigate the incident, claiming that South Korea "fabricated" the whole plot and had removed all evidence. China, Pyonyang's only ally, defended North Korea.
Diplomats said the North Korean mission to the UN sent a letter to the council asking for its support. The letter, signed by Ambassador Sin Son Ho, said South Korea should also join in the investigation because it is the "most reasonable way" to settle the dispute over the sinking of the Cheonan vessel on March 26.
The letter was addressed to Mexican UN Ambassador Claude Heller, who was president of the council in June. But Heller told reporters on Wednesday, the last day of his presidency, that discussion among council members about the incident was still going on.
"The consultations were still going on," Heller said.
He said the results of those talks were to be presented to his successor, Nigerian Ambassador Joy Ogwu, who was to take over the council presidency for July on Thursday. Heller gave no indication whether council members had agreed on anything.
China can block any move by the council as a permanent members with veto power. The other veto wielders are the US, Russia, France and Britain.
During the G8 meeting in Toronto last week, US President Barack Obama raised the issue of the ship incident during talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, which prompted a strong rebuff from Beijing's foreign ministry.
The G8 statement criticized the incident as a "challenge to peace and security in the region and beyond" and blamed North Korea for it.
Pyongyang's foreign ministry on Tuesday issued a statement rejecting the G8 statement, saying, "The heads of state of G8 ... hastily handled the case in a deliberate manner only to prove that they sought a sinister political purpose."
It said the G8 "is heading for a cemetery of history as it has been reduced to an evil group blindly conniving at and defending its allies, far from taking principle and truth as a standard."