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Tags: SKorea China Talks

SKorea Rejects China's Call for Talks

Sunday, 28 November 2010 10:10 AM EST

South Korea rejected China’s call to resume six-party talks with North Korea today, as it’s navy began maneuvers with U.S. warships amid threats of a “merciless” response by Kim Jong Il’s regime.

“Emergency” discussions involving the Koreas, China, the U.S., Russia and Japan should be held early month in Beijing to address increasing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Wu Dawei, China’s top envoy for the negotiations, told reporters in Beijing today. The time isn’t right for such a meeting South Korean President Lee Myung Bak told visiting Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo today in Seoul, Yonhap News said.

North Korea “will deal a merciless military counter-attack at any provocative act of intruding into its territorial waters,” according to a Rodong newspaper commentary carried today by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. U.S. and South Korean warships led by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington today began four days of drills in the region.

Residents of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island, where four people were killed and 20 wounded in a Nov. 23 artillery bombardment by the North, were temporarily ordered to take refuge in bomb shelters today after more shelling was heard on the North Korean mainland. U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. is trying to prevent tensions over last week’s attack on the disputed maritime border from escalating into a more significant confrontation.

‘Focused on Restraint’

“We’re very focused on restraint and not letting this thing get out of control,” Mullen told CNN in an interview scheduled for broadcast on “Fareed Zakaria GPS” today and posted on the network’s Website. “Nobody wants this thing to turn into a conflict.”

The shelling of Yeonpyeong revived tensions that flared after an international inquiry concluded that North Korea torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan in March and following North Korea’s claims of advances in its nuclear program. North Korea said that, if true, reported civilian casualties in its artillery attack were “very regrettable.”

“But the enemy should be held responsible for the incident as it took such inhuman action as creating ‘a human shield’ by deploying civilians around artillery positions and inside military facilities,” state-run Korean Central News Agency said yesterday.

‘Defensive’ Drills

The U.S. called the naval drills, which include four smaller warships as well as the George Washington, “defensive in nature” and said they were initially planned before last week’s shelling of Yeonpyeong.

The nuclear-powered carrier, which holds about 85 aircraft and is served by a crew of 6,500, was last in waters off the Korean Peninsula in July as part of drills after the Cheonan’s sinking, which killed 46 sailors.

China’s Xinhua News Agency said Choe Tae Bok, chairman of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly, will visit China Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.

The Korean won was Asia’s worst-performing currency against the dollar on Nov. 26, sliding 1.9 percent versus the dollar, as the risk of conflict deterred investment in the nation. The Kospi stock index fell 1.3 percent.

Shipping was warned to avoid an area of the Yellow Sea parallel to China’s northeastern city of Qingdao while gunnery exercises take place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, according to the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Qingdao lies about 615 kilometers west of Seoul.

China Influence

China’s Foreign Ministry warned against having the exercises in China’s “exclusive economic zone” without its authorization, Xinhua reported. The Pentagon reiterated that the U.S. military notified China of the planned exercise, as it has in the past.

President Barack Obama, along with Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee, have called on China to use its influence to temper North Korea’s actions. China is North Korea’s main economic and political benefactor.

China has the most leverage with North Korea and “it’s really important that Beijing lead here,” Mullen said.

North Korea’s actions destabilize the region, “and China has as much to lose as anybody in that region with the continuation of this kind of behavior,” he said.

The shelling of Yeonpyeong, which has a military base and a civilian fishing community, was the first attack of its kind since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended with an armistice rather than a treaty.

South Korea is considering reinstating North Korea as the “main enemy” in its defense guidelines, Yonhap News reported yesterday, citing a government official it didn’t identify. The term may be restored in a Defense White Paper following North Korea’s artillery attack, the Korean-language news agency said.

New Defense Minister

President Lee on Nov. 26 appointed former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Kim Kwan Jin, 61, to replace Defense Minister Kim Tae Young, who quit amid criticism that the military’s response to the shelling was inadequate.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi urged prevention of further escalation on the peninsula and vowed to “work toward easing the tension between the two Korean parties, as well as resuming the six- party talks” aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear arms program, during a telephone call yesterday, according to an e-mailed statement from the Russian ministry.

The western sea border, demarcated by the UN after the war and never accepted by North Korea, was the scene of deadly naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002. The North contends the border should have been drawn further south in order to include Yeonpyeong and four neighboring islands as part of its territory.

©2010 Bloomberg. All Rights Reserved

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

South Korea rejected China’s call to resume six-party talks with North Korea today, as it’s navy began maneuvers with U.S. warships amid threats of a “merciless” response by Kim Jong Il’s regime.
SKorea China Talks
Sunday, 28 November 2010 10:10 AM
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