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U.S. intelligence expert visited S. Korea after ship sinking: report.

SEOUL, April 19 Kyodo

A senior U.S. intelligence officer made a secret visit to Seoul early this month after a South Korean naval patrol ship sank near the western sea border with North Korea on March 26 after a mysterious explosion, a local daily reported Monday.

Sylvia Copeland, who is in charge of North Korean affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, met senior South Korean intelligence officers to exchange intelligence on what North Korea was doing around the time of the sinking and discuss a possible response, the Chosun Ilbo said, quoting a diplomatic source.

''Copeland is an officer trusted by (Director of National Intelligence) Director Dennis Blair,'' the source said. ''She was here right after the (1,200-ton corvette) Cheonan sank, due to the need for cooperation with the South. It seems the two countries rechecked their system of sharing intelligence about the North.''

Out of Cheonan's 104 crew members, 38 sailors are confirmed dead and eight others still unaccounted for, while 58 were rescued.

After doing preliminary inspection into the salvaged rear section of the sunken ship, South Korean investigators said last Friday that ''an external explosion'' was likely behind the sinking.

They said their probe will focus on all possibilities, including a torpedo attack by North Korea, which has denied any involvement.

Before and after her visit, Copeland also went to Japan and other countries.

Before becoming ''mission manager for North Korea'' at ODNI in November last year, Copeland was ODNI's associate deputy director of national intelligence for collection, according to ODNI.

She previously served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis and was reportedly once a U.S. military officer based in South Korea.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Apr 19, 2010
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