Washington: The Obama administration has sought a change in North Korea`s "belligerent and threatening" behaviour in the wake of reports that the communist nation was behind the sinking of a South Korean warship early this month.
"We believe that North Korea should stop its belligerent and threatening behavior. We support (South Korean) President Lee`s (Myung-bak) actions," the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters here.
Earlier, President Barack Obama had his intelligence briefing and spoke with the national security team on the increasing tension in the Korean Peninsula in the wake of the investigations revealing that North Korea was behind the sinking of a South Korean warship early this month.
"We endorse President Lee`s demand that North Korea immediately apologise and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behaviour," Gibbs had earlier said in an unusual statement issued in the wee hours of the day.
Noting that US` support for South Korea`s defence is unequivocal, Gibbs said Obama has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their South Korean 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," Gibbs said.
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said the US seeks a change in North Korea`s behaviour.
"We have over the years taken a variety of different approaches to North Korea; and tragically and unfortunately, at some point in time North Korea resorts to this kind of provocative behaviour. We`re going to make clear that there will be consequences," he said.
"We will be looking at the implications of this and making clear to North Korea that these kinds of unwarranted steps will have consequences," Crowley said in response to a question but quickly pointed out that America`s actions are not intended to punish the North Korean people.
"We have a quarrel with the North Korean Government and its ongoing, unhelpful, and provocative steps. We will evaluate both multilaterally and unilaterally areas in which we might be able to have an additional impact on the North Korean Government. But our intent here is not to make life even more difficult than it already is to the North Korean people," Crowley said.
The United States and South Korea will put together a strong, concerted, international response, he said, adding that there are a variety of steps that can be taken.
"The President of South Korea announced some of those steps last night. We completely support South Korea in its efforts - in the coming days will bring the matter before the UN Security Council.”
The US is committed to support South Korea as it does so.