April 25, 2006

South Korea plans sea survey near disputed isles

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea is planning a nautical survey
near islands at the center of a territorial fight with Japan,
an official said on Tuesday, adding the survey had been
scheduled before a recent flare-up over the outcrops.

Tension has run high between Seoul and Tokyo in recent days
over a Japanese plan to conduct a maritime survey near the
islands called Tokto in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

South Korea's Ocean Research and Development Institute is
planning to conduct a survey as early as May on the ecology
near the islands and the geology of the seabed.

It has conducted similar surveys in recent years starting
from 1999, and this year's survey is not related to the most
recent dispute, Park Chan-hong, a director, said by telephone.

"The dispute between South Korea and Japan is a sensitive
issue, but we started planning this survey from March," Park

In a deal reached over the weekend, Japan agreed to call
off a maritime survey of the seabed near the islands and Seoul
said it would drop plans to register Korean names for undersea
features near the islands at an international conference in

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, facing criticism at
home for not being tough enough in the territorial row, went on
television on Tuesday to vow that he would never compromise on
sovereignty over the disputed islands.