Seoul: North Korea has denied any involvement in a mysterious blast that sank a South Korean Navy ship last month near their disputed sea border, a news report said on Saturday.
A North Korean military delegation told Chinese military officials during its trip to Beijing on March 30 that the North was not behind the explosion that sunk the Cheonan, South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified diplomatic source.
The 1,200-ton Cheonan exploded on March 26 and sank a few hours later during a routine patrol near the tense western border with North Korea. Fifty-eight crew members were rescued. Military divers later recovered two bodies, but the 44 other sailors are still missing.
No cause has been determined. South Korean officials have said they will look at all possibilities including that a floating mine or a torpedo from North Korea struck the ship.
South Korea's intelligence chief Won Sei-Hoon told lawmakers in a closed-door session on Tuesday that it was difficult to conclude whether North Korea was involved, according to Chung Chin-sup, a lawmaker in the ruling Grand National Party who was briefed by Won.
General Walter Sharp, chief of the 28,500 American troops in South Korea, said on Tuesday he is confident that a joint probe by South Korea and the US would solve the mystery of the explosion.
First Published: Saturday, April 10, 2010, 11:20