The Obama administration called on China Wednesday to rein in North Korea after its artillery attack on a South Korean island, as the Pentagon ordered the USS George Washington aircraft carrier strike group to the Yellow Sea for naval exercises with South Korean forces.
Search crews on the island located off South Korea's west coast also recovered the charred bodies of two civilians Wednesday.
China, which has a defense agreement with communist North Korea, is the key to changing Pyongyang's behavior, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
"We do believe that China has influence with North Korea," he said. "We don't want to understate or overstate that. It's not that China can dictate a particular action to North Korea. It is that China, together with the United States and other countries, have to send a clear, direct, unified message that it is North Korea that has to change."
At the United Nations, Security Council, members held talks on the attack, but news reports indicated that action on the matter was unlikely. The Security Council took months to condemn North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship and then did not mention North Korea by name.
At Incheon, South Korea, residents of the bombed island told stories of the midafternoon artillery barrage.
"Over my head, a pine tree was broken and burning," said Ann Ahe-ja, who was among the hundreds of evacuees from Yeonpyeong Island arriving at the port. "So I thought, 'Oh, this is not another exercise. It is a war.' I decided to run. And I did."
In addition to the two civilians, two South Korean marines were killed and 18 wounded in the artillery strike, which destroyed 30 homes.
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