U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there is overwhelming evidence North Korea is responsible for sinking a South Korean warship. Her statement came in Japan, the first stop in her three-nation tour of Asia.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly condemned North Korea for what she called "provocative actions" against a South Korean warship. Addressing reporters in Tokyo - her first stop on her Asia tour - Clinton said that North Korea torpedoed the ship in March in South Korean waters near the maritime border with the North. The ship split the vessel in two, killing 46 sailors.
"I think it is important to send a clear message to North Korea that provocative actions have consequences," she said. "We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community. So we will determine our best options moving forward and send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea regarding the international community's and most particularly its neighbors' concerns about its behavior and I look forward to being able to work out the details over the next week."
Clinton's statement came just hours after South Korean President Lee Myun-Bak called an emergency meeting in Seoul, in response to the investigation. Lee said the attack violated the U.N. Charter as well as the truce that ended the Korean war in 1953.
North Korea denies any involvement in the attacks and has threatened "all out war" if South Korea tries to retaliate.
Clinton said Washington would consult China, South Korea, and Japan on the appropriate response, but refused to call the North's attack "an act of war" mindful of the Korean Peninsula's instability.
The heightened concerns come as Japan and the U.S. struggle to decide the future of a marine base in the southern island of Okinawa. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma was scheduled to move to a remote part of Okinawa but those plans have been on hold since Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama took office last fall. Clinton said the two countries would "redouble their efforts" to reach a decision by the end of May, the Japanese government's self-imposed deadline.
"It is good to be reminded as we recently were with the unprovoked attack on the Korean vessel that there are still dangers and challenges that still confront us together. I am confident that we will resolve this issue in a manner that reflects the very best of our alliance," she said.
Prime Minister Hatoyama is scheduled to visit Okinawa Sunday, the second time this month, as he tries to convince local residents of the need to keep the base there.