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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

South Korea Considers Response to Ship’s Sinking -

South Korea Considers Response to Ship’s Sinking - ""

SEOUL, South Korea — President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, trying to figure out how to respond to the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, convened an unusual meeting of top military commanders on Tuesday in which he said the episode was “no accident” and vowed “clear and resolute measures” against those responsible.

It was the first time a South Korean president had presided over a meeting of the country’s 150 most senior military officials, and a measure of the political burden the sinking of the ship, the 1,200-ton Cheonan, had placed on Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee, in his third year in office and facing crucial mayoral and gubernatorial elections in June, must address his conservative base over what most South Koreans believe — or have been led to believe by government statements, like the ones on Tuesday — was a North Korean attack. But too much saber-rattling with the North could disrupt the financial markets.

“He has to walk a fine line,” said Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based researcher for the International Crisis Group. “It’s not an easy thing to do.”

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