US com­mit­ted to de­fend South Korea de­spite China’s in­flu­ence

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

SEOUL: The top U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cer warned North Korea on Wed­nes­day that the U.S. com­mit­ment to help­ing South Korea de­fend it­self is "un­ques­tioned," even as he pressed China to use its in­flu­ence to push the com­mu­nist North to change.

In a clear show of unity with South Korea, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, called re­cent North Korean ag­gres­sion, in­clud­ing an ar­tillery at­tack last month that killed four South Kore­ans, "bel­liger­ent, reck­less be­hav­ior." He said China ap­peared un­will­ing to use its enor­mous lever­age to rein in the North.

"China has unique in­flu­ence. There­fore, they bear unique re­spon­si­bil­ity," Mullen said at a joint news con­fer­ence with his South Korean coun­ter­part, Gen. Han Min-koo. "Now is the time for Bei­jing to step up to that re­spon­si­bil­ity and help guide the North, and the en­tire re­gion, to­ward a bet­ter fu­ture."

Mullen warned that North Korea should not mis­take South Korean re­straint as a lack of re­solve or "as will­ing­ness to ac­cept con­tin­ued attacks."

"Your readi­ness to de­fend your ter­ri­tory and your cit­i­zens is un­mis­tak­able, and my coun­try's com­mit­ment to help­ing you do that is un­ques­tioned," Mullen said.

Asked about the South Korean de­fense min­is­ter's vow to bomb North Korea should there be more attacks, Mullen said Seoul has "ev­ery right to pro­tect its peo­ple and to re­spond as it sees fit." He said he didn't ask South Korea to "take air op­tions off the ta­ble."

"The goal clearly is to have a de­ter­rent ef­fect so that all-out war never oc­curs," Mullen said.

Mullen noted that with 46 sailors killed in the sink­ing of a South Korean war­ship in March, there have been "50 deaths by DPRK hands," re­fer­ring to North Korea by its for­mal name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple's Re­pub­lic of Korea. North Korea has de­nied in­volve­ment in the sink­ing.

Mullen vowed to hold more joint drills with South Korea to de­ter North Korean ag­gres­sion.

South Korea and the United States staged drills last week off the west coast of the penin­sula in a show of force af­ter North Korea's Nov. 23 ar­tillery bar­rage on South Korea's Yeon­pyeong is­land near the Koreas' dis­puted sea border.

While the of­fi­cers met ear­lier Wed­nes­day, North Korea staged ap­par­ent fir­ing ex­er­cises.

North Korean shells landed in the coun­try's own wa­ters north of South Korea's Baengnyeong is­land, a South Korean mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said. He spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, cit­ing mil­i­tary rules.

North Korea also car­ried out an ap­par­ent mil­i­tary ex­er­cise within sight of Yeon­pyeong is­land last month fol­low­ing the ar­tillery as­sault on the is­land. Ar­tillery shots were heard three days later as Gen. Wal­ter Sharp, the top U.S. com­man­der in South Korea, toured the is­land in a show of sol­i­dar­ity with Seoul and to sur­vey dam­age.

The Nov. 23 at­tack - the first since the 1950-53 Korean War to tar­get a civil­ian area - killed two South Korean marines and two con­struc­tion work­ers, and re­duced many homes and shops to charred rub­ble.

Han called the at­tack a vi­o­la­tion of the U.N. char­ter and the armistice signed at the close of the war. -Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.