China seeks talks to ease Korean tensions

08:57, November 29, 2010      

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China called on Sunday for an emergency meeting of the six countries involved in past nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang, to discuss and resolve heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula arising from the exchange of artillery fires between the two Koreas on November 23.

As the United States and its ally South Korea has launched a large-scale navel exercises in the Yellow Sea, West of the peninsula and Pyongyang has vowed to retaliate, the dangers are high that a flare-up of the already tense situation could lead to a full-blown war.

"After careful considerations, China proposes emergency meetings among the heads of delegations to the Six-party Talks, to be held in early December in Beijing," said Wu Dawei, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs.

Last week, China's Premier Wen Jiabao urged the two Koreas and relevant parties involved in the crisis to exercise utmost restraint, and made public China's stance that Beijing is firmly opposed to any military provocations that would escalate the crisis on the peninsula.

To show the allies' military force, the U.S. Navy and South Korea armed forces launched a 4-day joint naval drill beginning Sunday, with the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington jointing the war games. North Korea has vowed to fight back.

Pyongyang said Saturday that it will deal "a merciless military counter-attack" at any provocative act of intrusion into its territorial waters, according to the official Rodong Sinmun.

South Korea has been "lukewarm" to China's latest call for a resumption of six-party talks, said a report by The New York Times on Sunday. A South Korea foreign ministry statement suggested that "the timing was not yet right for such a meeting", and China's proposal for emergency consultations "should be examined very carefully."

Japan will closely coordinate with Seoul and Washington in its response to China's proposal, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters in Tokyo.

A spokesman for the US 7th Fleet in the Pacific said no live-fire drills were planned. Officials would not supply exact locations but Yonhap news agency in the ROK said the drills were taking place about 160 kilometers south of Yeonpyeong island, the scene of last week's artillery barrage by North Korea.

The South Korea Defense Ministry told journalists to leave the island on Sunday because the situation was "bad". Many residents, evacuated earlier, said they did not want to return.

The North Korea on Sunday blasted the exercises, saying they were bringing war to the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile in Seoul, China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo met with ROK President Lee Myung-bak on Sunday.

Stressing the situation on the peninsula was worrisome, the two sides agreed the parties concerned should make joint efforts to engage in serious contact and dialogue to ease tensions and safeguard overall peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

Dai arrived in Seoul on Saturday and discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula with ROK Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also discussed the situation with his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the phone.

Choe Tae-bok, chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, will pay an official visit to China from Tuesday until Saturday, Xinhua reported.

By People's Daily Online


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