Tuesday 26 March 2019

N Korea 'readies missiles', China seeks talks

Seoul, November 28, 2010

North Korea  has placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the  Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency said, as the United States and  South Korea began military drills and China called for  emergency talks.

China made clear that the talks would not amount to a  resumption of six-party disarmament discussions which North  Korea walked out of two years ago and declared dead. South  Korea said it would carefully consider China's suggestion.     

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had told a visiting  Chinese delegation that Beijing, North Korea's only major ally  which is traditionally reluctant to criticise the reclusive  regime, should do more to help.

China, which agreed with South Korea that the situation  was 'worrisome', suggested the emergency talks for December  among North and South Korea, host China, the United States,  Japan and Russia. It did not say whether Pyongyang had agreed  to join.

Japan was non-committal. 'We want to respond cautiously  while cooperating closely with South Korea and the United  States,' Kyodo news agency quoted Deputy Chief Cabinet  Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama as saying.

Beijing has long-standing bonds with Pyongyang, and has  sought to shield its small, poor neighbour from a backlash  that China fears could draw an even more ferocious reaction  from North Korea and dangerously destabilize the region.

Critics in Washington and other capitals say China's  approach amounts to coddling a dangerous nuclear-armed state.

Yonhap said North Korea, whose ailing leader, Kim Jong-il,  is preparing to hand over the reins of power to his youngest  son, had moved surface-to-air missiles to frontline areas,  days after it shelled Yeonpyeong killing four people. The  North's official KCNA news agency warned of retaliatory action  if its territory is violated.     

South Korea's Defence 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.

In Seoul, life carried on normally for the city's more  than 10 million residents, with downtown shopping districts  jammed with people despite the freezing temperatures, and  cafes decked with Christmas decorations doing brisk business.

'I am worried, but not that worried that I need to stay at  home,' said Eunhye Kim, an usher showing people from a packed  theatre in the capital. 'They don't really want to make war  ...there's no gain for either side.'     

The exercises, in waters far south of the disputed  maritime boundary, are being held in the face of misgivings by  China and threats of all-out war from North Korea.

The chairman of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly  will visit China from Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency  said.

China has not taken sides in the conflict and declined to  blame North Korea, unlike the United States, for the sinking  of a South Korean naval vessel in March.

'We ask that China make a contribution to peace on the  Korean peninsula by taking a more fair and responsible  position on South-North Korea ties,' the South Korean  presidential Blue House quoted Lee as telling Dai.

Washington says the drill is intended as a deterrent after  the worst assault on South Korea since the end of the Korean  War in 1953.

Seoul expects jitters in financial markets to settle in  the short term unless North Korea carries out further  provocations, Yonhap quoted a senior Finance Ministry official  as saying.

The nuclear-powered carrier USS George Washington, which  carries 75 warplanes and has a crew of over 6,000, has joined  the exercises and will be accompanied by at least four other  U.S. warships, an official from US Forces Korea told Reuters.

South Korea has deployed three destroyers, frigates and  anti-submarine aircraft, Yonhap reported, adding the exercises  were being held far south of the disputed area where the  artillery firing took place on Tuesday.

South Korea's marine commander on Saturday vowed  'thousand-fold' revenge for the North Korean attack. North  Korea said that if there had been civilian deaths, they were  'very regrettable', but that South Korea should be blamed for  using a human shield.

It also said the United States should be blamed for  'orchestrating' the whole sequence of events to justify  sending an aircraft carrier to join the maritime manoeuvres. - Reuters

Tags: China | US | Korea | missiles |


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