Four Dead in N. Korean Attack, U.S. Carrier Group Deploys

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 — South Kore­an offi­cials announced that two of the four dead in the unpro­voked attack by North Korea yes­ter­day were civil­ians.
Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma told South Kore­an Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak that the Unit­ed States stands shoul­der-to-shoul­der with South Korea.

Oba­ma strong­ly con­demned the North Kore­an attack on the island of Yeon­pyeoung. He said North Korea must stop its provoca­tive actions, which will only lead to fur­ther iso­la­tion, and ful­ly abide by the terms of the Armistice Agree­ment and its oblig­a­tions under inter­na­tion­al law.

The two pres­i­dents agreed to hold com­bined mil­i­tary exer­cis­es and enhanced train­ing in the days ahead to con­tin­ue the close secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion between our two coun­tries, and to under­score the strength of the alliance and the com­mit­ment to peace and secu­ri­ty in the region.

The USS George Wash­ing­ton car­ri­er strike group will join South Kore­an naval forces in the Yel­low Sea west of the penin­su­la from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to con­duct the next exer­cise in the series announced at the 2‑plus‑2 meet­ings in July.

This exer­cise is defen­sive in nature, said Unit­ed Nations Com­mand offi­cials in Seoul. “The intent of the series of exer­cis­es is to enhance our inter­op­er­abil­i­ty with the Repub­lic of Korea, but also as a deter­rent to North Korea,” Pen­ta­gon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan said today dur­ing a press avail­abil­i­ty.

The USS George Wash­ing­ton with an embarked car­ri­er air wing, the cruis­er USS Cow­pens, and the destroy­ers USS Lassen, USS Steth­em and the USS Fitzger­ald will par­tic­i­pate in the exer­cise along with South Kore­an ships. The Unit­ed States has noti­fied Chi­na, Japan and oth­er nations in the region of the exer­cise in inter­na­tion­al waters. The USS George Wash­ing­ton last exer­cised in the area in Octo­ber 2009.

Offi­cials planned the exer­cis­es well in advance of yesterday’s North Kore­an artillery attack, Lapan said.

“Past exer­cis­es, sanc­tions, inter­na­tion­al con­dem­na­tion -– there have been any num­ber of things that have been intend­ed to curb the North’s aggres­sion, but for what­ev­er rea­son they have cho­sen to dis­re­gard,” he said.

The North Kore­an attack is a vio­la­tion of the Armistice Agree­ment signed in 1953. It fol­lows the North Kore­an sink­ing of the South Kore­an ship Cheo­nan in March -– an attack that killed 46 South Kore­an sailors.

There have been many North Kore­an breach­es of the armistice over the years, but it is one of the first to tar­get civil­ians. The attack has had a chill­ing effect on the peo­ple of South Korea.

“Just the act of aggres­sion itself –- regard­less of who was killed –- is what’s of con­cern to us, but cer­tain­ly attack­ing civil­ians takes this to a dif­fer­ent lev­el than we’ve seen in the past,” Lapan said.

Oba­ma said the Unit­ed States will work with the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to strong­ly con­demn this out­ra­geous action by North Korea, and to advance peace and secu­ri­ty in the region.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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