AAP staff report
Washington, D.C. (May 24, 2010) – The White House Office of the Press Secretary reported this week that President Barack Obama supports Republic of South Korea President Lee Myung-bak, in his handling of the ROKS Cheonan military ship sinking incident and the objective investigation that followed.
The White House said measures that South Korea announced May 24, are entirely appropriate in reacting to the alleged actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
President Lee has stated an investigation of the sinking points to North Korea as the responsible party, and demanded an apology and that those responsible for the attack are punished appropriately. He added that North Korea must stop its belligerent and threatening behavior.
The U.S. support for South Korea’s defense is unequivocal, stated President Obama, who has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression. 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.
President Lee stated in his address that the Republic of Korea intends to bring this issue to the United Nations Security Council.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated May 24, that North Korea has dealt a blow to efforts to promote peace in the region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, voicing hope that the Security Council will act swiftly on the issue.
Mr. Ban noted that Seoul released the findings of an international report which find its vessel Cheonan was hit by a DPRK torpedo in late March, claiming the lives of 46 ROK soldiers.
Ban told reporters that evidence laid out in the report “is overwhelming and deeply troubling,” adding his voice to the chorus of international leaders condemning the incident. He said that it is “particularly deplorable” that this development occurs at a time when both global efforts to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula and the so-called Six-Party Talks – bringing together the DPRK, the ROK, Japan, China, Russia and the United States – are stalled.
“Such an unacceptable act by the DPRK runs counter to international efforts to promote peace and stability in the region.”
“I am confident that the Council, in fulfilling its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, will take measures appropriate to the gravity of the situation,” Mr. Ban emphasized today.
Although a national of the ROK, the Secretary-General today asserted his objectivity in the matter.
The United Nations, he also noted, will continue providing life-saving support to the people of the DPRK, given the dire humanitarian situation, where over one third of the co nearly 24 million-strong population is in need of food assistance.
“Regardless of other considerations, we need to provide humanitarian assistance” to those who need it most, including malnourished children. “They are the leaders of our future generations and they should be given proper nutrition and support,” the Secretary-General said in response to a reporter’s question.
He also welcomed the announcement by Mr. Lee that the ROK will continue to assist vulnerable children in the DPRK.
In response to the pattern of North Korean provocation and defiance of international law, the President Obama has directed U.S. government agencies to review their existing authorities and policies related to the DPRK. This review is aimed at ensuring that we have adequate measures in place and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate.
The U.S. will continue to work with the Republic of Korea and other allies and partners to reduce the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability. Secretary Clinton is currently traveling to Beijing and Shanghai, and will include to Seoul for discussions with President Lee and his senior advisors on May 26 before reporting back to the President on her consultations in the region.
Secretary Gates is in close contact with ROK Defense Minister Kim and will meet with him and other counterparts at the June 4-6 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. President Obama and President Lee agreed to meet in Canada at the time of the G-20 Summit.