China: Korean situation "sensitive"

AFP, Tuesday 21 Dec 2010

China says Korean peninsula situation requires restraint

Korean conflict
Map of North and South Korea locating disputed islands where planned South Korean military drills have resulted in increased tension in the region. (Reuters)

China said Tuesday the situation on the Korean peninsula "remains complicated" and urged all parties involved to exercise restraint, after South Korea's live-fire drill on a flashpoint border island.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu also again called for "urgent" talks among the six nations involved in a stalled North Korean denuclearisation forum -- a call that so far has been received coolly in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

"The situation remains complicated and sensitive," Jiang told reporters. "We call on all parties to exercise restraint."

Pyongyang held fire after Seoul's military drill on Yeonpyeong island on Monday. The North shelled the island last month, killing four people including two civilians, and had threatened a response to any South Korean exercise.

The North's military said Monday it "did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation", easing fears of war between the two Koreas.

Beijing, North Korea's main ally, had earlier warned that any bloodshed on the Korean peninsula would be a "national tragedy" and upset regional stability.

China blocked efforts at the UN Security Council to agree a statement on the Korea crisis and Russia warned that the international community was now left without "a game plan" to counter escalating tensions.

Jiang said Tuesday that an emergency consultation of envoys to the six-nation talks was "urgent and necessary", reiterating a call made by Beijing shortly after the November 23 artillery attack on Yeonpyeong.

So far, the United States, Japan and South Korea have rejected that call, instead staging three-way talks in Washington earlier this month.

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