SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton said Wednesday the world must respond to the sinking of a
South Korean warship that has been blamed on North Korea.
"This was an unacceptable provocation by North Korea, and the
international community has a responsibility and a duty to
respond," Clinton told reporters after talks with South Korean
The ship sinking "requires a strong but measured response,"
she said at a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign
Minister Yu Myung-hwan, though she did not elaborate.
Clinton said the United States would be consulting with South
Korea and members of the U.N. Security Council on what the
appropriate action would be, but she declined to offer a timeline.
"We're very confident in the South Korean leadership, and their
decision about how and when to move forward is one that we respect
and will support," she said.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply since a team
of international investigators last week concluded that a torpedo
from a North Korean submarine tore apart the corvette Cheonan on
March 26. It killed 46 South Korean sailors and was one of the
South's worst military disasters since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Clinton spent just a few hours in Seoul discussing possible
international responses with South Korean leaders. North Korea
denies it was to blame and has threatened any attempt to punish it
could lead to war.
Clinton arrived in the South Korean capital Wednesday after
intense discussions on the deteriorating Korean situation with
Chinese officials in Beijing.
"I believe that the Chinese understand the seriousness of this
issue and are willing to listen to the concerns expressed by both
South Korea and the United States," she said. "We expect to be
working with China as we move forward in fashioning a response."
China, the North's biggest ally, says it is still weighing the
evidence over the sinking.
Beijing regards the sinking as "extremely complicated" and has
no firsthand information about the cause, Vice Foreign Minister
Zhang Zhijun told reporters in the Chinese capital.
"China is carefully and prudently studying and examining the
information from all sides," he said.
South Korea's Yu, asked about the possibility of China or Russia
blocking action by the U.N. Security Council, said they "will take
time, I'm sure, but they will not be able to deny the facts."
Clinton called the investigation into the sinking "very
thorough, highly professional" and "very convincing." She said
both the United States and South Korea had offered China
"additional information and briefings about the underlying facts
of that event."
"We hope that China will take us up on our offer to really
understand the details of what happened and the objectivity of the
investigation that led to the conclusions," she said.
Earlier Wednesday, Clinton met South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak and discussed cooperation on the response to the ship
Lee thanked Clinton for Washington's backing, while the top U.S.
diplomat replied that she came to South Korea to show her "clear
and unmistakable" support for Lee and his government, according to
As Clinton visited Seoul, the two Koreas traded new threats amid
rapidly deteriorating relations.
The North's military said it would block cross-border traffic
heading to a joint industrial zone in North Korea if the South does
not stop psychological warfare operations. It also vowed to blow up
any loudspeakers South Korea sets up to broadcast propaganda
South Korea, meanwhile, accused Pyongyang of taking "menacing"
measures and vowed to "deal with these North Korean threats
unwaveringly and sternly," Unification Ministry spokesman Chun