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China begins action on defusing inter-Korean tension

Posted November. 29, 2010 11:18,   


China has begun taking action on the volatile situation on the Korean Peninsula, sending Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo to South Korea and announcing “important” information by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China is under mounting global pressure to play a “responsible role” since North Korea’s shelling attack on the South Korean front-line island of Yeonpyeong last week.

Dai, who made a sudden visit to Seoul Saturday as a special envoy for Chinese President Hu Jintao and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, held talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for about two hours on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where tension has been rising since Pyongyang unveiled its uranium enrichment facilities and shelled Yeonpyeong.

The Chinese official, who also held talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan for about three hours, expressed condolences over the South Korean victims of the attack.

Hong Sang-pyo, a spokesman for President Lee, quoted Dai as saying China is committed to peace and stability on the peninsula. Dai also expressed hope that Seoul and Beijing strengthen bilateral strategic communication to that end.

President Lee said Pyongyang’s unveiling of its highly enriched uranium program and attacking of South Koreans, including civilians, marked a significant change in the situation. He asked that Beijing contribute to peace on the peninsula with a fairer and more responsible attitude.

President Lee also asked China to play a role befitting its new status in inter-Korean relations aimed at co-existence and peace in the 21st century, according to Hong. Though South Korea has continued to endure the North’s incessant saber-rattling since the Korean War, Seoul will strongly respond if Pyongyang makes further provocations, the president said.

President Lee talked with Dai for about 10 minutes behind closed doors after the two held a meeting with other officials. Though Dai did not carry a personal letter from Hu, he reportedly conveyed oral messages from the Chinese leadership.

“President Lee said all he wanted to say to China,” Hong told reporters. Observers say Dai, who is close to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, will also soon visit Pyongyang.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced “important” information about the situation on the Korean Peninsula around 4:30 p.m. Sunday after President Lee’s meeting with Dai ended, urging the two Koreas to maintain calm and restraint to prevent the Yeonpyeong incident from escalating into a military clash.

North Korea will also soon hold talks with China. Choe Thae Bok, chairman of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly and a secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers` Party, will make an official visit to China at the invitation by Wu Bangguo, chairman of China’s National People`s Congress.

President Lee will make a public statement Monday morning on the North’s attack and declare strong retaliation if Pyongyang makes additional provocations.