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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tensions Rise Between Koreas as Ship Is Salvaged -

Tensions Rise Between Koreas as Ship Is Salvaged - ""

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Saturday salvaged the remaining half of a warship that sank near a disputed sea border with North Korea, as suspicion of a North Korean torpedo attack deepened and two former South Korean presidents urged the country’s leaders to punish Pyongyang economically.

The ship, the Cheonan, sank after a mysterious explosion split it in half on March 26. One sailor was found dead in the ship’s wreckage Saturday, bringing the total of confirmed dead to 40. Six others are missing and presumed dead.

The rear half of the ship was lifted out of the water last week. A team of international investigators have been scrutinizing the wreck to find clues to what and who caused the blast, which they believe was external. North Korea has denied any involvement.

In an indication of how seriously South Korea views the incident, President Lee Myung-bak met Friday with former presidents — a common practice when the nation is facing a crisis and seeking to build a national consensus.

Only two of South Korea’s three living former presidents were well enough to attend: Chun Doo-hwan, a former military dictator, and Kim Young-sam, who opposed the dictatorship but became a political conservative.

The government briefed the local news media on the meeting late Friday, saying the former presidents had both said they believed the ship was attacked by North Korea, a claim Mr. Lee has been careful not to make while the incident is still being investigated.

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