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  • SKorea’s Lee vows to make North ‘pay the price’ for attack

    Published on November 29, 2010

    South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak on Monday vowed to make North Korea “pay the price” for its “inhumane” artillery attack on a frontline island that killed four people and sparked global outrage.

    Lee has come under pressure to take a tougher line against Pyongyang after his military’s counter-fire following North Korea’s deadly artillery strike on a border island last week was seen as feeble.

    “I can’t help expressing anger at the North Korean regime’s brutality,” he said in a nationally televised address.

    “Now our people know that any more tolerance and patience will only fan bigger provocations,” he said of the regime that has previously tested nuclear bombs and is blamed for sinking a South Korean warship, killing 46 people.

    A day after China, North Korea’s last major ally, called for emergency talks with Pyongyang, Lee said that it is “difficult to expect North Korea to abandon military brinkmanship and nuclear weapons”.

    His speech comes as the US and South Korean navies stage a potent show of force against North Korea, carrying out a four-day joint naval exercise led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington. (SS-29/11)

    US, SKorea launch war games in tense Yellow Sea

    A US super-carrier and South Korean destroyer took up position in the tense Yellow Sea on Sunday for joint military exercises that were a united show of force just days after a deadly North Korean artillery attack.

    As tensions escalated across the region, with North Korea threatening another “merciless” attack, China belatedly jumped into the fray.

    Beijing’s top nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, called for an emergency meeting in early December among regional powers involved in nuclear disarmament talks, including North Korea.

    Seoul responded cautiously to the proposal from North Korea’s staunch ally, saying it should be “reviewed very carefully” in light of North Korea’s recent revelation of a new uranium-enrichment facility, even as protesters begged President Lee Myung-bak to find a way to resolve the tension and restore peace.

    The troubled relations between the two Koreas, which fought a three-year war in the 1950s, have steadily deteriorated since Lee’s conservative government took power in 2008 with a tough new policy toward nuclear-armed North Korea.

    Eight months ago, a South Korean warship went down in the western waters, killing 46 sailors in the worst attack on the South Korean military since the Korean War.

    Then, last Tuesday, North Korean troops showered artillery on Yeonpyeong, a South Korean-held island that houses military bases as well as a civilian population of 1,300 – an attack that marked a new level of hostility.

    Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed and 18 others wounded in the hailstorm of artillery that sent residents fleeing into bunkers and reduced homes on the island to charred rubble.

    North Korea blamed the South for provoking the attack by holding artillery drills near the Koreas’ maritime border, and has threatened to be “merciless” if the current war games – set to last until December 1 – get too close to its territory.

    As US and South Korean ships, including the nuclear-powered USS George Washington, sailed into the waters off Korea’s west coast on Sunday, China began launching its diplomatic bid to calm tensions. Washington and Seoul had been pressing China, North Korea’s main ally and benefactor, to help defuse the situation amid fears of all-out war.

    China, slow at first to react, has quickened its diplomatic intervention in recent days.

    Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo made a last-minute visit to Seoul to confer with Lee.

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