Restraint urged on Korean Peninsula

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China warned on Saturday that a possible fresh clash between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) could shake regional stability and it urged both governments to avoid moves that it said would stoke tensions.

It again asked for relevant parties to return to negotiation, stressing the urgency and necessity for an emergency discussion among the heads of the Six-Party Talks delegations.

The urgings, made twice within a day by Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, came after escalating tension in the Korean Peninsula, as DPRK military on Friday urged the ROK to immediately stop its plans for a live-shelling exercise around Yonphyong Island.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported on Friday that the head of the DPRK delegation to the DPRK-ROK general-level military talks sent a notice to the ROK side about the shelling exercise.

It warned that if the ROK persisted in its plan to hold the exercise, the DPRK would deliver a second and third "self-defense counterattack" that would be bigger and more powerful than the previous one to defend its territorial waters.

In a statement, Zhang said: "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is now highly complex and sensitive, and China is deeply concerned and worried.

"If a bloody clash breaks out on the peninsula, the first to suffer will be the people on both sides of the peninsula, and it would also certainly wreck regional peace and stability, harming surrounding countries.

"China resolutely opposes, without the least ambiguity, any actions that could lead to a deterioration and escalation in the situation and wreck regional peace and stability."

Zhang renewed China's call for talks to defuse the confrontation between both sides.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have heightened after the ROK and the DPRK exchanged artillery fire near Yonphyong Island on Nov 23 that killed four in the ROK.

China has staged a flurry of diplomatic efforts to solve the Korean Peninsula tension, with President Hu Jintao talking via phone with US President Barack Obama on the issue, and State Councilor Dai Bingguo and other Chinese diplomats helping to calm regional tension.

Dai met with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg on Thursday afternoon, seeking to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula amid increased fears of war.

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