Seoul on alert as N. Korean submarines disappear in East Sea
Wed, May 26, 2010
The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

SEOUL, KOREA - South Korea's military was tracking four North Korean submarines which disappeared from their east coast base after conducting naval training in the East Sea earlier this week, a military official in Seoul said Wednesday (May 26), according to Yonhap News.

Locations of the North's four 300-tonne-class submarines have remained unknown for two days, the military official said, noting, "We are tracking the four submarines by mobilising all naval capabilities in the East Sea," the report said.

It added that the submarines left the Chaho base located near the Musudan-ri missile launch pad site in North Hamgyong Province in North Korea's northeast coast, according to the official.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula flared after a multinational investigation concluded last week that a North Korean submarine slipped into the South's waters near their Yellow Sea border and attacked a South Korean warship with a torpedo, killing 46 crew members on March 26.

The latest movement came ahead of a crucial visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Seoul on Wednesday.

During her visit, she is expected to show US's firm commitment to South Korea as the Asian ally grapples with rising tensions over North Korea's deadly sinking of one of its warships.

Clinton's visit - though only a half-day long - is symbolic of the US alliance and security commitment to South Korea, according to Yonhap News.

On the eve of Clinton's arrival, Pyongyang renewed its denial of any responsibility for the sinking, accusing the South of making trumped-up charges against it and declaring that it would cut off any remaining ties with Seoul.

In Seoul, Clinton is scheduled to meet with President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan. Her discussions are expected to focus on joint strategies on handling the crisis, including stern punishment of the North by bringing the case to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. - The Korean Herald/ANN

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