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White House, McConnell Condemn North Korean Attack

Updated Nov. 23, 12:11 p.m. President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell finally have something in common: their joint condemnation of North Korea’s attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

The White House denounced Tuesday’s artillery attack on the small island, which left two dead and more than a dozen injured, and said administration officials are in “close and continuing contact” with South Korean leaders.

“The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

“The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability,” he said.

McConnell called on North Korea’s neighbors to criticize the move.

“I join the president in his strong condemnation of what is, sadly, just the latest in a long string of hostile actions,” the Kentucky Republican said.

“As the people of the Republic of Korea question what new belligerent action may come from the North, they should not have any question that the people and forces of the United States stand ready as a devoted ally committed to the defense of their nation,” McConnell said.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said Obama got news of the incident at 3:55 a.m., when National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called him. The president, who is in Indiana touring a Chrysler plant, plans to call South Korean President Lee Myung-bak later Tuesday to express American solidarity, Burton told pool reporters.

“The president is outraged by this action. We stand shoulder to shoulder with South Korea,” he said.