TOKYO – President Bush's announcement that the major fighting in Iraq had ended was met Friday with caution, not cheers, by some in Asia, wary over the aftermath in Iraq (search) and Washington's next move in the world.
Some South Koreans expressed hope that Washington's successes on the battlefield in Iraq may serve as a lesson to their unpredictable and often belligerent neighbor to the north, which is also on Bush's short list of global troublemakers.
"North Korea (search) is very much afraid. It knows Washington is focusing on it now that the war in Iraq is over," said Paik Hak-soon, a political analyst at the Seoul-based Sejong Institute.
Others, however, saw more trouble ahead.
"The war will not be over until U.S. troops (search) withdraw from Iraq. Until then, U.S. troops will face endless protests and struggles by the Iraqis," said Chung Yon-shik, a leader of anti-war protests.
"The war itself lacked moral justification," he said. "The Americans shouldn't be too happy over their victory; they should be ashamed."
South Korea (search) has officially backed the coalition.
On Wednesday, it sent 326 military engineers and medics to Kuwait (search) on Wednesday to join the U.S.-led forces in southern Iraq. Another 300 are scheduled to join them mid-May.
Bush spoke Thursday on the USS Abraham Lincoln (search), which was returning from service in the Iraq war. Bush proclaimed that "the United States and our allies have prevailed" against Saddam Hussein's Iraq and will confront any other threatening nation suspected of terrorist ties.
In Japan, where the speech was broadcast live and uncut on the NHK public television network, concerns remain deep over the acrimony caused between the United States and some of its European allies over the decision to go to war.
As Bush spoke, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was on a tour of Europe to try to help mend that gap. Koizumi, who has supported Washington by sending troops to the Gulf to play a supporting role, is expected to meet with Bush later this month.
"Calm is gradually returning to Iraq, and discussion is focusing on how to rebuild the nation," the daily Asahi said in an editorial in its Friday morning edition.
"But the rift between the United States and France, Germany and Russia over the decision to begin the war remains wide.