South Korea`s Lee meets Hu; sunken ship in backdrop
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Shanghai on Friday that touched on security risks caused by the North`s suspected attack on a warship from the South.
Seoul: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Shanghai on Friday that touched on security risks caused by the North`s suspected attack on a warship from the South.
China, the reclusive and impoverished North`s biggest benefactor with the most influence in Pyongyang, wants to prevent further tensions that increase the chances of war but is not about to punish its neighbour, analysts said.
"The bottom line is that Pyongyang knows that Beijing will not forsake them even if they behave in this provocative manner." said Peter Beck, a specialist on Korean affairs who is a researcher at Stanford University.
Lee, who met Hu on the sidelines of the World Expo in Shanghai, has signalled Seoul would not retaliate by force, calming investor concerns over Asia`s fourth largest economy.
"I want to take this opportunity to express my condolences to those who were sacrificed in the Cheonan sinking and to their families," Yonhap news agency quoted Hu as telling Lee.
South Korea lost 46 sailors when their ship was attacked last month by what is believed to be a North Korean torpedo in what would be one of the deadliest strikes by Pyongyang since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
South Korea`s defence minister told the Parliament investigators have found a piece of aluminium that appears to be not part of the sunken corvette. Military experts say aluminium debris is consistent with a torpedo attack.
Lee has been looking for regional support in the wake of the crisis, which experts say could result in economic and political moves to punish Pyongyang if Seoul formally names it as the culprit.
Lee may also have his first face-to-face meeting with a top member of the North`s ruling class in Shanghai. The North`s nominal number 2 leader Kim Yong-nam, who serves as the face of the government, is also attending the Expo.