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UN Command Blames N. Korea in Naval Clash

The U.S.-led United Nations Command in Seoul blames North Korea for Saturday's sea battle that killed four South Korean sailors and about 30 from North Korea. The U.N. Command is urging North Korea to take part in talks on the shootout, a request Pyongyang has turned down.

The U.N. Command statement says North Korea caused the clash off the west coast of the divided peninsula.

The statement says the North's actions were provocative and had increased tensions across the peninsula. The two Koreas remain technically at war because the Korean War ended in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty.

The U.N. Command also reissued a call to Pyongyang to set up high-level military talks with the United States and South Korea to investigate the fight. The North rejected the idea Monday, and called for talks on redrawing the sea border.

Both sides blame each other for Saturday's battle, which the South says occurred after two North Korean patrol boats crossed into disputed waters.

Maritime police say that South Korean fishing boats have resumed operations near the disputed border, accompanied by naval and police vessels.

Public anger over the skirmish is growing in South Korea, with newspaper editorials and opposition politicians calling for the government to halt aid for the North and suspend a cross-border tourism program.

One significant project has been shelved. South Korea's Information and Communication Ministry postponed talks between the two nations on starting a mobile phone service in the communist North.

Scott Snyder, a representative of the Asia Foundation in Seoul says this move underscores South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's anger over the incident.

"I believe that the South is taking a harder stance and that it is warranted on the basis of the fact that military tensions have increased and that there was an exchange of gunfire and loss of life on the South Korean side," said Mr. Snyder. "The South Korean response is both reasonable and necessary in light of South Korean public opinion."

South Korea also has changed its military rules of engagement along the maritime border. It now allows patrol boats to issue fewer warnings before firing on intruding North Korean boats.

President Kim has spent most of the past four-years working for closer ties between Pyongyang and the South. His so-called Sunshine policy won him the Nobel Peace Prize, but critics say South Korea has given too much aid and other help to the North and gotten little in return.