China says North Korea ties sur­vived ‘tem­pests’

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

SEOUL: China, pushed again by Washington to bring North Korea to heel af­ter last week's ar­tillery at­tack on the South, told Py­ongyang their re­la­tion­ship had with­stood in­ter­na­tional "tem­pests."

On Wed­nes­day, South Korea's spy chief said it was highly likely the iso­lated North would at­tack its wealthy neigh­bor again. Ad­mi­ral Mike Mullen, chair­man of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week's bom­bard­ment threat­ened the sta­bil­ity of the re­gion, home to three of Asia's biggest economies.

China has re­fused to blame its ally for shelling the South Korean is­land of Yeon­pyeong, which de­stroyed dozens of houses and killed four peo­ple, or for the sink­ing of a South Korean naval ves­sel in March.

"The tra­di­tional friend­ship of China and North Korea has with­stood the tests of in­ter­na­tional tem­pests and changes and re­plen­ished it­self over time," Wu Bang­guo, China's chief leg­is­la­tor, told a vis­it­ing North Korean del­e­ga­tion, China's main of­fi­cial news­pa­per, the Peo­ple's Daily, re­ported on Thurs­day.

None of Wu's pub­lished re­marks men­tioned the re­cent con­fronta­tion be­tween North and South Korea, or the lon­grun­ning dis­pute over North Korea's nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties.

Both Bei­jing and Py­ongyang were com­mit­ted to "strength­en­ing strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion" and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, said Wu.

China, which said it would not play fa­vorites in the dis­pute, has pro­posed emer­gency talks of the six coun­tries-the two Koreas, China, Ja­pan, Rus­sia and the United Statesin­volved in North Korean de­nu­cle­ariza­tion talks.

The of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency said Moscow had expressed sup­port for emer­gency con­sul­ta­tions and Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Vladimir Putin said in a CNN in­ter­view that con­tin­ued di­a­logue was "in Rus­sia's in­ter­ests."

South Korea said again on Thurs­day now was not the time for talks. The di­rec­tor of the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, Won Sei-hoon, told a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee meet­ing the North was likely to at­tack again once a U.S. flotilla, led by a nu­clear-pow­ered air­craft car­rier, had left the re­gion af­ter mil­i­tary ma­neu­vers with the South.

South Korea re­sponded to North Korea's at­tack on Yeon­pyeong min­utes later with 80 shells. Won re­vealed satel­lite pic­tures to a closed-door par­lia­ment ses­sion that showed one North Korean ar­tillery base hit by 10 or so shells, in­clud­ing one that landed on the bar­racks, Yon­hap news agency said.

An ear­lier im­age re­leased by a U.S. com­mer­cial satel­lite com­pany showed a dozen or so shells had missed what ap­peared to be a North Korean ar­tillery base in­land and ex­ploded on aban­doned land.

Cur­rency mar­kets briefly wob­bled on spe­cific re­ports of an­other at­tack be­fore the end of the year, but South Korean stocks and the won were higher. North Korea makes threats against the South on an al­most daily ba­sis.

Ad­mi­ral

Mullen

said China's push for new talks was no sub­sti­tute for ac­tion.

"Bei­jing's call for con­sul­ta­tions will not sub­sti­tute for ac­tion and I do not be­lieve we should con­tinue to re­ward North Korea's provoca­tive and desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior with bar­gain­ing or new in­cen­tives," he said in a speech. "China is uniquely placed to guide North Korea to a less dan­ger­ous place."

The for­eign min­is­ters of the United States, Ja­pan and South Korea are to meet in Washington on Mon­day to dis­cuss North Korea. China is not in­cluded.

Some an­a­lysts say the at­tack was Py­ongyang's at­tempt to force the re­sump­tion of in­ter­na­tional ne­go­ti­a­tions that could bring it aid. Oth­ers saw it as an at­tempt to boost the mil­i­tary cre­den­tials of the coun­try's leader-in-wait­ing, Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of ail­ing leader Kim Jong-il.

Six-party talks aimed at end­ing North Korea's nu­clear pro­gram were sus­pended in De­cem­ber 2008 af­ter North Korea walked out. -Reuters

KIEV: Demon­stra­tors hold a rally to protest against a pro­posed new tax code in cen­tral Kiev. -Ap

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