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Koreas split on U.S. strikes

North Korea said the attacks cannot be justified under any circumstances
North Korea said the attacks cannot be justified under any circumstances  

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- The reclusive government of North Korea has added its voice to opposition to the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan warning that the world faces the danger of a new war.

In a statement carried on the official KCNA news agency, the North's Foreign Ministry warned "the action of the United States should not be a source of a vicious circle of terrorism and retaliation that may plunge the world into the holocaust of war."

In Pyongyang's first comment on the U.S.-led military action the ministry said it opposed terrorism but said armed forces should not be used to aggravate regional stability and kill civilians.

"The use of armed forces or a war to kill innocent people and aggravate the regional situation and disturb regional stability...cannot be justified under any circumstances," KCNA quoted the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying

At a glance: North Korea

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North Korea's Stalinist government is on Washington's list of states that sponsor terrorism although Pyongyang had earlier condemned the September 11 attacks as "regretful and tragic".

The unnamed spokesman quoted by KCNA said the North "had done what it was obliged to do to combat terrorism" but complained that Washington still kept the country on its list of so-called "rogue states".

Seoul support

South Korea, for its part, remains predictably in full support of its long-time ally, with its leaders proclaiming their full support for the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan.

Not all South Korean's back President Kim's support for the U.S. action  

"We declare once again that we are resolved to provide unreserved support and cooperation for the justifiable action by the international community, including the United States," said President Kim Dae-jung after the strikes began.

Earlier, government officials said South Korea would be willing to contribute non-combat troops, including medical teams and transport planes, to the allied cause.

There has though been some degree of protest among ordinary South Koreans.


Immediately following Monday's attacks a small anti-war, anti-U.S. rally gathered around the American Embassy in downtown Seoul.

Many expressed fears that innocent people would end up as victims of the fighting.

With more than 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, security forces are on high alert for any possible threat and officials from the U.S. and Korea have held meetings this week to confer on precautions.

Extra security has been put in place around Western embassies and military facilities, as has security around the newly opened Inchon international airport.

South Korea is co-hosting the soccer World Cup in 2002 and officials have been keen to make clear they will deploy all security measures necessary to ensure the event is free from terrorist activity.

-- CNN Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-ae contributed to this report


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