Seoul: US President Barack Obama said on Sunday
it was unclear who was "calling the shots" in North Korea
under its untested new leader and stepped up demands for
Pyongyang to abort its planned rocket launch.
Obama stood with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to
present a united front against the communist North, hours
after staring into what he termed a "time warp" as he visited
the last land border left over from the Cold War.
The US leader also had some unusually public criticism of
China for its failure to induce its North Korean ally to open
its nuclear programme to inspections and to end years of
"provocations" and "bad behaviour".
His comments in Seoul also deepened speculation about
the elevation of new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and
raised the alarming prospect of a power struggle in a volatile
and erratic nation armed with nuclear weapons.
Obama told reporters it was "hard to have an
impression" of the young leader who took over after his father
Kim Jong-Il died from a heart attack in December.
"The situation in North Korea appears unsettled. It is
not clear exactly who is calling the shots and what their
long-term objectives are," Obama said in Washington`s frankest
assessment yet of Pyongyang`s murky power politics.
The President got an up-close look into the isolated
Stalinist state when he climbed a clifftop observation post 25
metres from the demarcation line that has divided the Koreas
for six decades.
After squinting through high-powered binoculars from
behind a bulletproof screen over a border guarded by mines,
barbed wire and tank traps, Obama said he had stared into a
He then turned towards a huge North Korean flag
flapping in the stiff breeze at half-mast to mark the 100th
day since Kim Jong-Il`s death, and at a horizon dotted with
rudimentary buildings peeking through the haze.
The visit, during which Obama told some of the 28,500
US troops guarding South Korea that they stood at "freedom`s
frontier", was meant as a firm show of unity with Seoul and
appeared partly aimed at Kim Jong-Un. (AFP)