The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier to take part in exercises off the Korean Peninsula in a show of strength after North Korea fired artillery onto South Korean soil for the first time in half a century.
President Barack Obama talked with South Korean counterpart Lee Myung Bak for 30 minutes by phone and dispatched the USS George Washington from Japan today to take part in the drills. These will take place off the South’s western coast from Nov. 28-Dec. 1, the U.S. Forces Korea said in an e-mailed statement. There are about 25,000 American troops stationed in South Korea.
“The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our close friend and ally,” Obama told Lee, according to a White House statement. North Korea must stop its “provocative actions, which will only lead to further isolation.” The two leaders agreed that further sanctions against North Korea may be necessary, Lee’s office said in a statement.
South Korea raised its military alert status to the second- highest level after North Korea yesterday fired onto the island of Yeonpyeong, Defense Minister Kim Tae Young said today in Seoul. Four people were killed and 20 wounded, mostly soldiers, when Northern forces shelled the island in the first attack of its kind since the 1950-1953 civil war.
And, according to the Korea Times, North Korea's leader "approved" of the attack on South Korea: "A high-ranking government official reportedly said Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il approved the artillery attack on Yeongpyeong Island near the maritime border in the West Sea, Tuesday."