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SKorean troops prepare for possible NKorean attack

South Korean marines patrol on December 20, 2010 in Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea. South Korea held live-firing drills on the island of Yeonpyeong, which was shelled last month by North Korea. However, North Korea has stated that it will not retaliate to today's drills.  (Korea Pool, Getty Images)
South Korean marines patrol on December 20, 2010 in Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea. South Korea held live-firing drills on the island of Yeonpyeong, which was shelled last month by North Korea. However, North Korea has stated that it will not retaliate to today's drills. (Korea Pool, Getty Images)
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Updated: 12/21/2010 5:25 am

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean official says the lack of retaliation from North Korea to yesterday's artillery exercise on a front-line island does not mean Pyongyang is backing down.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, noted that North Korea thrives on "surprise" attacks.

South Korean ships and fighter jets were on patrol today just in case.

The North considers the waters around the island its territory. Similar drills last month triggered an artillery barrage that killed four South Koreans.

Meanwhile, the State Department is taking a wait-and-see approach to North Korea's apparent concessions on its nuclear program. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who made an unofficial visit to North Korea, says officials agreed to allow a visit by U.N. atomic inspectors to make sure its main nuclear facility is not producing bomb-grade material.

A State Department spokesman says what North Korea does is more important than what it says.



©2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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