WASHINGTON: "PEACE, NOT WAR"
The United States, Japan and South Korea pressed China and Russia on Monday to help defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula as Chinese President Hu Jintao warned U.S. President Barack Obama the situation could "spin out of control."
In a show of support for South Korea after the North's shelling of one of its islands killed four people on November 23, Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, will leave on Monday evening to meet security officials in Seoul.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened what she said was a "landmark" meeting with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts, saying all three shared grave concerns over "provocative attacks from North Korea."
"We are committed to our partners and we are committed to the preservation of peace and stability in Northeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula," Clinton said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, in comments echoed by South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, said all three countries hoped for more cooperation from Beijing and Moscow, which have appeared less eager to get tough with Pyongyang.
"We will turn this meeting into one that will get the firm engagement of China and Russia in our efforts," Maehara said.
China, the host of stalled international nuclear talks with Pyongyang, was not invited to the meeting in Washington. But the U.S.-Japan-South Korea session was expected to discuss Beijing's proposal for emergency regional talks on the crisis.
"PEACE, NOT WAR"
The White House said Obama, in a telephone call with Hu, urged Beijing to work with the United States and others to "send a clear message to North Korea that its provocations are unacceptable.
The conversation between Obama and Hu took place as South Korea started live-fire naval exercises, 13 days after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island close to a disputed maritime demarcation line.
China's foreign ministry said Hu told Obama: "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."
"We need an easing, not a ratcheting up; dialogue, not confrontation; peace, not war," Hu was quoted as saying.
Analysts said Hu's comments showed greater urgency but that China was reluctant to lean too hard on the North, which is in the midst of a leadership transition, for fear of a collapse that could send refugees streaming across its border.
"They see an element of vulnerability and the consequences are not to their liking should there be a collapse" said Jack Pritchard, president of the Korea Economic Institute. "They can't afford to be applying too much pressure that causes a crack or the potential implosion of North Korea."
The International Criminal Court's prosecutor said it had opened a preliminary investigation into whether North Korean forces committed war crimes in South Korea, ramping up pressure on the isolated government in Pyongyang.
Copyright © 2008-2010 Voice Of Balochistan Organization. All rights reserved