The US' Asian allies yesterday warmly welcomed US President George W. Bush's second term, while some in the region expressed concern that his inauguration speech pointed to a more aggressive foreign policy that could worsen global tensions.
Communist North Korea lambasted the US in comments carried by its official KCNA news agency hours before the inauguration ceremony, saying it was a "wrecker of democracy as it ruthlessly infringes upon the sovereignty of other countries."
South Korean experts said Bush's speech hinted at a tougher stance against the isolated, totalitarian North, which is locked in an international standoff over its nuclear ambitions.
In his speech Thursday night in Washington, which was early Friday in Asia, the US president vowed not to shrink from "the great objective of ending tyranny" around the globe. Although Bush didn't cite North Korea by name, his secretary of state-designate, Condoleezza Rice, earlier this week said Iran, Zimbabwe and North Korea were "outposts of tyranny."
"The hidden message is that if North Korea doesn't resolve its nuclear problem, the United States is willing to attempt a toppling and changing leaderships in North Korea," said Park June-young, a political scientist at Seoul's Ewha Woman's University.
US allies in the region greeted Bush's inauguration with enthusiasm.
Japan had high hopes for Bush's second term as the leader of "the world's largest and most influential nation in the world," said Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda on Friday.
Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf sent the US leader a congratulatory message and pledged continued support for Washington's anti-terror campaign, said the government's chief spokesman Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
Pakistan's military president made the Islamic nation a key ally of the US in its war on terror after Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in America.
Ahmed added that he hoped Bush would help resolve Pakistan's territorial dispute with India over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir.