China’s Hu tells Obama worried by Korea crisis
BEIJING: China is highly concerned about the situation on the Korean peninsula, which could spiral out of control if not dealt with properly, President Hu Jintao told U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone call on Monday.
The conversation between Obama and Hu took place as South Korea started live-firing naval exercises, 13 days after the North shelled a South Korean island close to a disputed maritime demarcation line. "Especially with the present situation, if not dealt with properly, tensions could well rise on the Korean peninsula or spin out of control, which would not be in anyone's interest," Chinese state news agency Xinhua paraphrased Hu as saying.
"The most pressing task at present is to calmly deal with the situation," Hu added, according to the report.
China has faced calls from the United States and its allies to do more to rein in its ally North Korea after confrontation between Pyongyang and Seoul flared last month when North Korea shelled a South Korean island. Beijing has responded by calling for talks to defuse tensions.
Later in the day in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosts talks with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts to discuss the North Korean attack on Yeonpyeong island.
The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan will meet Clinton to discuss North Korea. They are expected to produce a statement condemning Pyongyang's actions.
China, the chair of stalled international nuclear talks with Pyongyang, is not invited. However, the Washington troika are expected to discuss Beijing's proposal for emergency regional talks on the crisis. "These talks aim to discuss ways on how to lead North Korea to act in a good way and the results of the talks will send this message to other countries including Russia and China," foreign ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun told a news briefing in Seoul.
Tensions have risen to their highest level in decades on the peninsula after the Yeonpyeong attack, which came days after the North's revelation it had made significant advances in its nuclear program.
South Korea started nationwide live-fire naval exercises on Monday, ignoring Pyongyang's warnings against conducting provocative drills in disputed waters off the west coast of the divided peninsula. The South's military said the exercises were scheduled to take place in the vicinity of the tense Northern Limit Line (NLL), but not near Yeonpyeong island which was hit by a barrage of North Korean shells 13 days ago. -Reuters
BERLIN: German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (R-L), Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsk and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble await the start of a meeting of both countries government. -Ap