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U.S., China agree at UN to condemn attack on South Korean ship

 The U.S. and China have agreed on a statement condemning the attack on a South Korean warship that doesn’t accuse North Korea of complicity. The text was given today to the United Nations Security Council for adoption.

“The Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan,” the draft statement says. The text “takes note” of North Korea’s denial of involvement in the March 26 incident.

A multinational investigation reported on June 14 that a North Korean-made torpedo caused the sinking, killing 46 sailors. The draft statement says that “in view of the findings” of the panel, the Security Council “expresses its deep concern.”

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the statement was a “very clear and appropriate response.” She said adoption of the statement would “send a unified message that the Security Council condemns the attack.”

The draft statement also says the incident “endangers peace and security in the region” and “calls for appropriate and peaceful measures to be taken against those responsible for the incident.”

The permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. -- agreed on the text following more than a month of negotiations that also included Japan and South Korea. They gave the draft statement to the other 10 members of the panel with the expectation that it would be adopted unanimously tomorrow, according to Rice.

North Korea’s Position

North Korea’s ambassador to the UN said on June 16 that any Security Council statement “condemning us or questioning us” would produce a military response. “Follow-up measures will be carried out by our military forces” Ambassador Sin Son Ho told reporters.

South Korea initially sought a Security Council resolution explicitly condemning North Korea for sinking the Cheonan, demanding an apology and a commitment there will be no repeat of the attack, and calling for a return to stability in the region.

North Korea’s Sin last month said the U.S. and South Korea conspired to concoct a “funny story” about the sinking in an effort to influence South Korean and U.S. elections this year. The U.S. used the incident to persuade Japan to allow a U.S. base to remain on the island of Okinawa, to build support for arms sales to South Korea and to delay the handover to South Korea of control of military forces along the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, he said.

The North Korean ambassador, who theorized that the Cheonan might have run aground on “rocks,” said his government wants to send an investigative team to the site of the sinking. South Korea has rejected such a demand.