INCHEON, South Korea/WASHINGTON: The United States said Wednesday it believed North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island this week was an isolated act tied to leadership changes in Pyongyang and called on China to use its influence to stop the North’s provocative behavior.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States was working with allies on ways to respond but said that “It’s very important for China to lead.”
“The one country that has influence in Pyongyang is China and so their leadership is absolutely critical,” Mullen told a US television talk show.
A day after North Korea rained artillery shells at the island of Yeonpyeong, killing two civilians, a US aircraft carrier group set off for Korean waters Wednesday to take part in drills.
Although the US Forces Korea said the exercise had been planned well before the attack, many thought the move would enrage the North and unsettle its ally, China.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley also said the US expects China to use its influence to get North Korea to cease its provocative behavior, saying Beijing could play a “pivotal” role in helping to calm the situation.
Mullen said he believed the attack was linked to the succession of the reclusive state’s leadership.
Widely thought to be in failing health, Kim Jong-il appointed his younger son to key posts in September, a move seen as grooming him to be the North’s next leader. But Kim Jong-un has no real support base, and with the economy in dire straits there is a risk powerful military or government figures may decide the time is opportune for a power grab.
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)