A day after the tragic attack by North Korea against the small island of Yeonpyeong in the West Sea that left four people dead, world leaders and top diplomats responded with their harshest statements to date.
Right off the bat, U.S. President Barack Obama strongly condemned North Korea for shelling the island and said that the United States would defend South Korea.
Obama said that North Korea was “a serious and ongoing threat that needs to be dealt with” and that the United States would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with South Korea and stage joint military exercises in response to what the White House branded a provocative, outrageous attack by North Korea on its neighbor.
U.S. envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth called Wednesday for international condemnation of North Korea over the incident that left two marines and two civilians dead, and many homes in smoking ruin.
He also ruled out resuming six-party nuclear disarmament talks with the North while it continues to build a new uranium facility.
Washington’s stance against the resumption of talks is at odds with China’s position of getting back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said earlier that China needs to use its influence over North Korea to assist in easing tensions on the peninsula.
“It has created extreme concerns in not only South Korea, but also East Asia, including Japan,” Kan said.
Japan’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Banri Kaieda said that Japan could step up sanctions against North Korea’s bombing that not only killed two South Korean soldiers but left dozens of others injured.
Catherine Ashtong, European Union representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said that she is deeply concerned by the events on the divided peninsula.
“I strongly condemn this attack by the DPRK (North Korea). I call on the North Korean authorities to refrain from any action that risks further escalation and to fully respect the Korean Armistice Agreement,” adding that the EU is monitoring the developments closely “and that stability on the Korean Peninsula remains essential for the region and the wider world.”
The Guatemalan government, one of the many countries that have diplomatic relations with both Koreas, said that they are “concerned about the possibility of repercussions for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” and that “Guatemala expresses its solidarity with (South) Korea.”
In France, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie “strongly condemns” the actions taken by North Korea.
“France calls on North Korea to stop provocative actions and abstain from aggravating the situation in the region,” she said.
Across the channel, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that North Korea’s “unprovoked attacks will only lead to further tensions” on the Korean Peninsula, adding that he welcomes President Lee Myung-bak’s call for restraint.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd condemned the attack as “outrageous” and that the North Korean regime “is right out there.” A belief shared by most high ranking foreign diplomats in Seoul.
“What I’m concerned about ... to be very blunt, is if the North Koreans have anything else up their sleeve,” said Rudd.
He added that North Korea’s reckless behavior has the ability to threaten Australia’s economy and peace in the region.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan described the attack as an “irresponsible act” and called the concerned parties to exercise self-restrain and return back to the table of dialogue and negotiations.
No comments where made by Iran or Myanmar, two friendly countries to North Korea.
By Yoav Cerralbo (email@example.com)