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Britain Deplores North Korea Action; Supports South Korea Response


British Foreign Secretary William Hague says there is no doubt North Korea was responsible for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March that killed 46 sailors. He also lent full support to South Korea's response to the crisis.

Speaking to foreign journalists in London, Foreign Secretary William Hague called North Korea's action "deplorable." He said there is no doubt Pyongyang was behind the sinking of the South Korean ship on March 26th.

"British experts were part of the team who examined what had happened and ... their evidence and the evidence of the people who worked with them shows there is no doubt whatsoever that this was an act of North Korea," said Secretary Hague.

An international investigation concluded a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that caused the South Korean vessel to explode and sink.

In response South Korea has halted most trade with the North.

Foreign Secretary Hague said the United Kingdom fully supports what he called the proportionate South Korean response.

"We support the measures they have taken and everything they have said in light of this appalling incident, and we would support their intention to have it discussed at the U.N. Security Council as well," he said.

The United States and other nations have also condemned the sinking of the South Korean ship. Speaking in the South Korean capital, Seoul, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the whole world has a duty to respond to this action.

In London, Britain's foreign policy chief talked about a wide range of objectives for the new coalition government, in many cases stressing continuity, such as dealing with Iran.

"Support for a strategy of engagement and sanctions toward Iran, where we are working intensively with our partners to agree on a new U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution," said Hague.

And he said much the same for Afghanistan, where Britain has nearly 10,000 troops on the ground fighting alongside U.S. and other NATO forces.

"A firm commitment to NATO's engagement in Afghanistan, which is our most immediate, our top priority in foreign affairs, along with relations with Pakistan," he said.

Hague has just visited Afghanistan, along with Britain's defense and international development ministers. The foreign secretary said he would soon be paying a visit to Pakistan as well.

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