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Pres. Lee warns of strong response to NK provocations

Posted November. 30, 2010 10:14,   


President Lee Myung-bak warned North Korea over its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, saying, “North Korea will pay the price for its provocation. Now is the time to walk the walk.”

In a speech on the attack made from the presidential office, he said, “We’ve tried to address North Korea’s nuclear issue through conversation and cooperation over the past two decades and not spared humanitarian support, but what we’ve gained in return is the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island following the North’s nuclear development and the sinking of Cheonan.”

“Now we’ve learned that it`s hard to expect North Korea to give up military adventurism and abandonment of nuclear weapons on its own. Our people have clearly learned that more perseverance and tolerance only encourage bigger provocations.”

He said courage that does not shy away from provocation but confronts it to bring “true peace.” This is a reconfirmation of the Lee administration’s policy toward the North stressing that the previous "sunshine" or engagement policy cannot change the North, implying that sanctions on Pyongyang will remain.

“A military attack on civilians is an inhumane crime banned even in war,” President Lee said.

He also apologized for not preventing the provocation in advance, saying, “As president, I stand here acknowledging my responsibility for failing to protect the people’s lives and assets. I cannot help but feel sorry and regret over the loss of innocent lives and destruction of livelihood.”

“I will make our military stronger. I will tightly safeguard the five islands on the western coast against any provocation. To make our military tougher, I will strongly push for military reform.”

He added, “Unlike the split over the sinking of the Cheonan, North Korea cannot divide (South) Koreans, who are united this time. United people form the tightest security,” he said.

After his speech, he visited a command room at the Combined Forces Command in Seoul, where he said, “I commend and appreciate the successful exercise with U.S. naval ships being deployed swiftly including the aircraft carrier George Washington.”

“Since U.S. and Korean forces are conducting this exercise efficiently, this will put strong pressure on our counterpart.”