U.S. President Barack Obama met Tuesday with his top advisers about the situation on the Korean peninsula, in the wake of North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island. Obama is expected to telephone South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to reiterate U.S. support for South Korea.
Immediately upon his return to the White House from a brief trip to the Midwestern state of Indiana, the president went into a meeting of his national security team.
According to a White House statement, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Secretaries of State and Defense Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were among those taking part.
Also participating in person or via video link were the chairman of the U.S. military Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen and the commander of U.S. forces in Korea, General Walter Sharp as well as Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
The White House statement says Obama reiterated the unshakeable support of the United States for the Republic of Korea, and that he discussed ways to advance peace and security on the Korean peninsula.
Briefing reporters earlier in the day, Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton described Mr. Obama has being “outraged” by North Korean actions on Tuesday, adding that the United States “stands shoulder to shoulder” with South Korea and that it is fully committed to South Korea’s defense.
It is unknown what contacts President Obama has made or plans to make with other world leaders. Asked whether the president would call China’s President Hu Jintao, White House Burton said only that Obama would do what is appropriate.
U.S. envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth was in Beijing, consulting South Korean, Japanese and Chinese officials, and is expected to meet with the president. The key focus of Bosworth’s talks in the region was Pyongyang’s recent revelation of an apparent uranium enrichment plant.
Bosworth called the North Korean artillery attack that killed two South Korean marines and wounded 18 people, three of them civilians, “aggression.”
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday called the attack an “unprovoked military assault,” and said the Obama administration is planning a “measured and unified” response, working with China and other nations in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. voa