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U.S. reaffirms strong alliance with S. Korea despite bloody attack on ambassador

2015/03/06 01:40

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Yonhap) -- The United States reaffirmed its strong alliance with South Korea on Thursday and said it won't be "deterred by senseless acts of violence" despite the bloody attack on its ambassador to Seoul.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf also said in a statement that Amb. Mark Lippert is recovering in a hospital after surgery, and "is doing well and in great spirits." She cited a message the ambassador tweeted earlier in the day.

"The U.S.-ROK alliance is strong; we will not be deterred by senseless acts of violence," she said.

Harf also noted that both South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called Lippert to express condolences and wish him a speedy recovery.

"Ambassador Lippert looks forward to getting back to work with his Republic of Korean counterparts to strengthen our bilateral relationship and to jointly address regional and global challenges," the spokeswoman said.

Harf said the suspect is in custody and U.S. law enforcement is cooperating closely with Korean police in the investigation. She also said she "cannot speculate on a motive at this time."

   The attack -- the first terrorist attack on a top U.S. envoy in Seoul -- occurred at a breakfast function in central Seoul, where Lippert planned to give a lecture organized by a coalition of South Korean civic groups dedicated to forge national consensus on unification with North Korea.

The knife-wielding assailant, identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, slashed Lippert on the face and wrist when he was having breakfast. The ambassador was immediately taken to a hospital and received more than 80 stitches. Hospital officials said he will need to remain hospitalized for three to four days.

The attacker was immediately arrested. As he was hauled away, Kim shouted his opposition to joint military exercises under way between South Korea and the U.S.

North Korea has strongly condemned such annual drills as a rehearsal for an invasion of the country.