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South Korea Offers Joint Probe with China Into Sea Incident

A Chinese trawler (C) capsizes after colliding with a South Korean Coast Guard boat in the waters off Gunsan, south of Seoul December 18, 2010.

South Korea is offering to conduct a joint investigation with China into the deadly collision of one of its coast guard vessels with a Chinese fishing boat in South Korea's exclusive economic zone.

One fisherman was killed and another was injured when the 63-ton trawler slammed into the 3,000-ton coast guard boat and sank off South Korea's southwestern port city of Gunsan on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry on Tuesday demanded financial compensation from Seoul over the incident, and punishment for the crew of the coast ship involved.

South Korean officials said Wednesday they want to cooperate with Beijing in order to avoid a diplomatic dispute.

A similar incident between a Chinese fishing boat and a Japanese coast guard vessel in the East China Sea back in September escalated into a major crisis between the two countries.

South Korea says the trawler was one of about 50 Chinese boats that were illegally fishing in the South's economic zone.

Officials say four South Korean coast guard officers were injured by the Chinese fishermen, who attacked them with pipes and shovels when they attempted to board the vessel. South Korea claims the captain of the Chinese boat deliberately rammed the coast guard vessel, causing the trawler to capsize.

Eight other crewmen were rescued, five of them by other Chinese fishing boats. Three were rescued by the South Korean coast guard crew and are in custody.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.