AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIJING: China today called the situation on the Korean peninsula “extremely precarious” and urged more talks to ease tensions, the Xinhua news agency reported, as Seoul prepared for a live-fire drill.
Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said Beijing was “deeply concerned and worried” about the situation on the peninsula, which is seeing its worst crisis in years, sparked by the North’s shelling of a South Korean island last month.
Zhang on Friday summoned Seoul’s ambassador to Beijing, Yu Woo-Ik, to express concern at the drill on Yeonpyeong island, set to take place in the coming days, South Korea’s Yonhap agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying.
The North has said it will retaliate with even greater force should the South proceed with the exercise on the island, where four people including two civilians were killed in last month’s bombardment. Zhang said the situation was “extremely precarious, highly complicated and sensitive,” according to Xinhua.
He called on the two Koreas to “remain calm”, state television said.
China, Pyongyang’s main ally, has repeatedly called for emergency talks among the six nations involved in long-stalled negotiations on ending the North’s nuclear drive as a way to defuse the prvailing crisis.
But the United States, South Korea and Japan have snubbed that request, holding three-way talks in Washington earlier this month and staging a series of military exercises in the region.
SKorea fire drill on despite threats
YEONPYEONG ISLAND: South Korea vowed on Saturday to go ahead with a live-fire drill on a border island bombarded by North Korea last month, despite the North’s threat to strike back hard. “There is no change in our stance regarding the live-fire exercise,” a defence ministry spokesman said. The firing training exercise may happen early next week when the weather will improve. The North on Friday threatened a deadlier attack if the South’s marines launch shells into what the communist state claims as its own waters. Pyongyang disputes the Yellow Sea border drawn after the 1950-53 war.