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Lee calls for higher vigilance against N. Korea

All Headlines 10:12 March 30, 2010

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak ordered his military Tuesday to stay alert against North Korea following the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel near the tense western border between the two sides technically still at war.

"As (the sinking) occurred at the front line, (the military) should thoroughly prepare for moves by North Korea," Lee said at the weekly Cabinet meeting, according to his spokesman Park Sun-kyoo.

The president's comments came as the Navy is trying to ascertain the cause of the sinking last Friday that left 46 sailors missing. The other 58 crew were rescued.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said the military is looking into the case, leaving "every possibility" open including the North's involvement. Media here raised the possibility that a sea mine floated by North Korea around the border might be to blame for the explosion that tore the 1,200-ton ship in two. But nothing has been confirmed yet on the cause.

The president called for a "speedy and scientific" investigation into the incident, instructing his administration to make sure the results are fully disclosed.

The two Koreas are in a state of war as their three-year war ended in a armistice, not a formal peace treaty, in 1953. Their navies staged skirmishes in 1999, 2002, and 2009 around the Northern Limit Line, a de-factor maritime border drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations but unacknowledged by the communist North.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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