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South Korea's president aims at crippling North Korea by suspending trade

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Published on May 24, 2010

South Korea's president lashed out at North Korea by suspending trade in a move aimed at crippling the impoverished regime as payback for a torpedo attack on a warship that killed 46 South Korean soldiers.

President Lee Myung-bak also pledged to take Pyongyang back to the United Nations Security Council for possible additional international sanctions and prohibited North Korea's cargo ships from passing through South Korean waters, in retaliation for the March 26 sinking.

"From this moment, no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control, which has been allowed by the Inter-Korean Agreement on Maritime Transportation. The sea routes meant for inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation must never again be used for armed provocations. Trade and exchanges between the Republic of Korea and North Korea will also be suspended."

"I solemnly urge the North Korean authorities to do the following: apologise immediately to the Republic of Korea and the international community. Immediately punish those who are responsible for (the incident), and those who were involved in the incident. These are basic measures that the North has to take before anything else."

In Washington, the White House said US President Barack Obama fully supports the South's measures, and US secretary of state Hilary Clinton said she was conferring on a response to the North's "provocative acts" with China.

The sinking of the Cheonan near the Koreas' western maritime border was South Korea's worst military disaster since the three-year Korean War.

An international team of investigators said last week that a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine tore the ship in two.

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