Lee’s praise for navy’s strike against Somali pirates ‘veiled threat to Pyongyang’: Expert

Saturday, January 22, 2011

SEOUL - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s national television appearance praising the navy for rescuing the crewmen of Seoul’s cargo ship in the Arabian Sea from Somalia pirates, is seen by analysts as an indirect warning to North Korea that his country is prepared to fight back if the situation ever warrants.

“Our military carried out the operation perfectly under difficult circumstances. We will not tolerate any behaviour that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted Lee, as saying on Friday.

After facing criticisms over his a weak response to North Korea’s bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea last year, the President had vowed to strike back at North Korea if his country experienced any further attacks.

Analysts consider the latest comment of Lee a ‘threat in disguise of an appreciation’.

“Somali pirates clearly are not as dangerous as the Korean People’s Army. Many South Koreans would like to see a muscular response, but the risks are far greater against the KPA,” the paper quoted Andrew Salmon, a Korean War historian and Seoul-based journalist, as saying.

“This is a very robust response by the South Koreans against a third-rate enemy, and sends a useful message to the North Koreans,” he added.

The South Korean chemical tanker was on its way from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka when pirates captured it January 15. The ship was 800 miles from the Somali coast when rescued. (ANI)

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