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Obama To Meet With South Korean President Lee

Susan Shimotsu |
November 23, 2010 | 12:37 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
North Korea's deadly attack against South Korea on Tuesday, coupled with South Korea's retaliation, has prompted President Barack Obama to call South Korean President Lee Myung Bak Tuesday, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Early Tuesday, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells at Yeonpyeong, a South Korea island. The attack prompted the South to fire back about 80 shells. Two South Korean soldiers were killed, while 17 troops and three civilians were wounded and between 60-70 houses were hit.

 The attack,  the heaviest since the end of the Korean War, will likely have a further effect on the world beyond East Asia. 

While Obama has not yet made a decision on sending any of the approximately 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea to the maritime border, he and several other world leaders have already condemned North Korea for firing first. 

 "Right now it's too soon,” said Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, about any immediate plans on the US’s part to deal with North Korea. “This happened several hours ago, so I wouldn't say we're looking at anything in particular at this point.”

 White House press secretary Robert Gibbs released a statement that condemned North Korea and called on it to “halt its belligerent action.”

 “The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability,” Gibbs said.

 It seems the overriding goal for the US is to prevent a full-on conflict in the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea has long-range missiles aimed at Seoul, the South Korean capitol. An estimated 50,000 US civilians are also in South Korea  and could potentially be put in the line of fire, if the fighting gets serious.

The United Nations Security Council plans to meet in the coming days to discuss the attack. China, the closest North Korea has to an ally, also expressed concern over the attacks. China has been in favor of returning to nuclear disarmament negotiations. 

North and South Korea are still technically at war. They agreed to a ceasefire to end their fighting in 1953, but never signed the peace treaty. 

Tensions have escalated over the last month as Kim Jong-Il has announced his son Kim Jong-Un as his successor and North Korea’s claim that they plan to add to their nuclear capabilities.

Reach reporter Susan Shimotsu, click here.
Follow her on Twitter: @susanfromtx.



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