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A tearful South Korean President Lee Myung-bak vowed on Monday to find out what caused last month's deadly navy ship sinking, but avoided direct references to neighboring North Korea, which many believe was the culprit.
The reclusive North at the weekend denied it had anything to do with the sinking of the Cheonan navy corvette, near a disputed sea border on the long-divided peninsula. It accused Lee of using the incident to try to drum up support for his ruling party in local elections in June
Analysts say if Pyongyang is shown to have torpedoed the ship, a version already raised as a possibility by the defense minister, there is little South Korea itself can do, aware that a military response is more likely to hurt its own economy and bolster the North's iron ruler Kim Jong-il at home.