Monday, May 24, 2010

US military to help S.Korea

A multinational team investigating the March 26 sinking of Cheonan said a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine was to blame. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has ordered the US military to work closely with South Korea 'to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression,' the White House said early on Monday.

'US support for South Korea's defence is unequivocal, and the president has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression,' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a written statement.

'We will build on an already strong foundation of excellent cooperation between our militaries and explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the peninsula as part of our ongoing dialogue.'

The White House assured Seoul it can continue to count on the full backing of the United States. The administration said it endorsed President Lee Myung Bak's demand that 'North Korea immediately apologise and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior.'

Mr Lee said on Monday that South Korea would no longer tolerate the North's 'brutality' and said the repressive communist regime would pay for the surprise March 26 torpedo attack that that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

He also vowed to cut off all trade with the North and take Pyongyang to the UN Security Council for punishment over the sinking of the warship Cheonan. The attack was South Korea's worst military disaster since the Korean War.

Speaking earlier in Beijing, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the North must be held accountable and she is pushing to get the support of China, North Korea's top ally, for diplomatic action. -- AFP, AP

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