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    U.S. State Department hopes to ease tensions between two Koreas

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    The U.S. Department of State hopes to "influence" North Korea and prevent escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula after a dispute over the sinking of the South's warship.

    The U.S. Department of State hopes to "influence" North Korea and prevent escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula after a dispute over the sinking of the South's warship, a spokesman said at a daily press briefing.

    The relations between the two countries soured after international investigations revealed that North Korea fired a torpedo from a submarine at the 1,200-ton South Korean Cheonan corvette. The vessel sank near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea on March 26 causing the loss of 46 lives.

    North Korea reacted denied sinking the ship and said it would withdraw from the nonaggression pact with South Korea if Seoul continued accusations. Pyongyang announced on Tuesday it would sever all relations with Seoul.

    "[A confrontation on the Korean Peninsula is] the last thing that we need - we have enough tension in the Korean Peninsula right now based on the action that North Korea has taken. We have no interest in seeing further provocations," Philip Crowley said.

    "We are looking to see how we can influence North Korean thinking and, most importantly, North Korean behavior. And we'll be working closely with our regional partners to see what should be done and what can be done to have the greatest impact on the North Korean leadership," he added.

    He said the issue was discussed at a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Chinese leadership. The tensions between two Koreas will also be addressed by Clinton and South Korean leadership on Wednesday.

    "We will be looking at a variety of options. That's why the Secretary has met this week with her counterparts in Tokyo and Beijing, to Seoul tomorrow, and then we'll work collaboratively in terms of the appropriate response," Crowley said.

    On a trip to Beijing, Clinton said that the U.S. support for South Korea's defense "is unequivocal."

    The U.S. and its allies are set to put more pressure on North Korea as they announced naval drills next month aimed at detecting submarines of the kind which is suspected of firing a missile at Cheonan, as well as intercepting cargo vessels suspected of hauling prohibited cargo, such as nuclear weapons and bomb-making materials.

    "I think the Pentagon talked yesterday about particular actions on the military side, including maneuvers, the prospect of additional training to - as we review the capabilities that we have within our military alliance with South Korea. I mean, there are things that we have that we can apply constructively to this situation and we will do so if appropriate," Crowley said.

    WASHINGTON, May 26 (RIA Novosti)

     

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