Timeline: Korea standoff

Timeline: Korea standoff

Seoul: A deadly attack by North Korea on a South Korean island near their disputed border sent tensions on the peninsula soaring and set alarm bells ringing around the world.

Following are some of the key events since the crisis began:

23 November 2010: Nuclear-armed North Korea fires a barrage of artillery shells on to a South Korean island near their disputed Yellow Sea border in the first such strike since the 1950-1953 war

• Two marines and two civilians are killed and 18 people are wounded in the bombardment of the fishing and garrison island of Yeonpyeong, as residents are sent fleeing

• The attack fuels anxiety about the intentions of the unpredictable communist state, particularly after the disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment plant -- a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb

• Most major powers condemn the North Korean attack, with the noticeable exception of Pyongyang’s sole major ally Beijing, which merely voices its “concern" at developments

24 November 2010: The United States and South Korea announce plans for four days of war games in the Yellow Sea starting Sunday

• US President Barack Obama telephones South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak telling him Washington stands “shoulder to shoulder" with Seoul

• South Korea suspends shipments of flood aid to the North

• The US-led United Nations Command, which oversees the Korean armistice, calls for talks with North Korea but Pyongyang rejects the request

• The foreign minister of China, which is facing pressure from Seoul, Washington and their allies to rein in Pyongyang, cancels a planned trip to South Korea

• Scores of South Korean protesters burn the North Korean flag and call for revenge

25 November 2010: South Korea’s defence minister Kim Tae-Young resigns amid strong criticism that the military reacted feebly to the shelling, which followed the sinking of one of Seoul’s warships in March blamed on Pyongyang

• Seoul announces it will send more troops and guns to frontline islands in the Yellow Sea and bolster its rules of engagement

• North Korea warns of more strikes if it faces a “reckless military provocation" from the South

26 November 2010: North Korea warns that plans for a US-South Korean naval exercise bring the peninsula “closer to the brink of war"

• Seoul says the North appears to have staged an artillery firing exercise in the Yellow Sea, sending residents of Yeonpyeong rushing into air raid shelters

27 November 2010: South Korea vows revenge and a tough line against North Korea over its artillery attack as it holds funerals for the two marines killed in the strike

• North Korea warns of “unpredictable consequences" if the the United States and South Korea go ahead with naval exercises in the Yellow Sea

28 November 2010: North Korea vows a “merciless military counter-attack" against any intrusion into its territorial waters as a major US-South Korean naval exercise begins well south of the border

• China calls for an emergency meeting in early December of envoys to the six-nation talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament

29 November 2010: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak vows to make North Korea “pay the price" for any future provocations

• North Korea calls the joint US-South Korean naval drill a “grave provocation" and a “crime" which had brought the region to “the brink of war"