N Korea issues warning ahead of US-S Korean exercises
Seoul: North Korea warned of "unpredictable consequences" if the United States and South Korea go ahead with naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, days after launching a deadly attack on the South.
The USS George Washington aircraft carrier and its
battle group were planning four days of exercises with South
Korea from Sunday as a show of force after Pyongyang stunned
the world with its artillery strike.
The planned drill has also heightened tensions between
Washington and Beijing, which regards the Yellow Sea as its
own ancestral waters and has refrained from condemning its
communist ally Pyongyang over Tuesday's attack.
Washington has stressed that the manoeuvre is
"defensive in nature", was planned before North Korea's
attack, and is not aimed against China.
But North Korea's official KCNA news agency issued an
ominous warning: "If the US brings its carrier to the West Sea
of Korea (Yellow Sea) at last, no one can predict the ensuing
Tuesday's attack -- the first shelling of civilians
since the 1950-53 Korean war, which Pyongyang says was
provoked by a South Korean military exercise -- has plunged
the peninsula into its worst crisis in decades.
China's state councillor Dai Bingguo, the country's
top foreign policymaker, travelled to Seoul on Saturday and
held talks on the situation with South Korean Foreign Minister
Kim Sung-hwan, Beijing's official news agency Xinhua reported.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also held phone
talks today with his Japanese and Russian counterparts.
The government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
has come under intense pressure from the opposition,
newspapers and veterans' groups to take a tougher line against
the regime of Kim Jong-Il.
General Yoo Nak-Joon, the commander of South Korea's
Marine Corps, grimly pledged to "repay North Korea a hundred-
and thousand-fold" for the deaths of two marines, at their
funeral ceremony televised nationwide.
"We'll engrave this outrage deep into our bones," he
Hundreds of mourners including the prime minister,
marines and weeping relatives paid their last respects to
Sergeant Suh Jung-Woo, 22, and Private Moon Kwang-Wook, 20,
who died Tuesday along with two civilians.
They filed past their portraits to lay flowers and
light incense at an altar decorated with white chrysanthemums,
before three rifle shots echoed for their final salute and
their bodies were buried at a national cemetery.