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China to weigh evidence before blaming N.Korea for warship sinking

RIA Novosti

12:3227/05/2010 BEIJING, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - China, North Korea's most important ally, on Thursday reiterated its reluctance in joining the U.S. and South Korean claim that Pyongyang was behind the sinking of the Cheonan warship.

China currently has no "first-hand information" to blame the maritime incident on the North and will draw its own conclusion after carefully studying all information provided by the parties involved, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said at a press briefing on Thursday.

The announcement comes shortly after a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State pledged support for South Korea and expressed hope that "China and Russia will do the same."

"China and Russia clearly have to play a significant role in that response that sends a very clear and compelling message to North Korea," Philip Crowley, the state department's assistant secretary, said.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered on Wednesday to send a group of Russian experts to South Korea to examine the results of a probe into the sinking of a South Korean warship.

South Korea's 1,200-ton Cheonan corvette sank near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea on March 26 with the loss of 46 lives. After an investigation, Seoul accused North Korea of firing a torpedo from a submarine at the vessel.

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