The United States and South Korea “will respond” to any continued provocation from North Korea, said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at an Asia Security Summit in Singapore on Friday night.

In a keynote address at the inaugural dinner, being hosted by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mr. Lee hinted at a military response in the event of North Korea refusing to make amends for its perceived role in the recent sinking of a South Korean warship.

However, he said “it is not in our interest to engage in any military action”. Answering questions after the address, Mr. Lee said: “The best scenario is to prevent a war from happening in the first place. However, if the enemy continues to taunt us and thinks that it can do whatever it wants, it must understand that there is a limit and that they will have to suffer the consequences. In that regard, [South] Korea and the United States are displaying their combined defence posture as staunch allies and making North Korea to understand that we will respond.”

South Korea and the U.S., with their partners, were trying to impress on North Korea that “acts of aggression will not just be condoned”. Urging Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear-weapons programme, Mr. Lee emphasised “the ultimate aim of peaceful reunification” of the two Koreas.

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