China calls for emergency 6-party meet to resolve Korean crisis

November 28, 2010


China on Sunday proposed “emergency consultations” among representatives of the Six Party Talks – which involve the North and South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States – to help resolve the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese proposal follows Tuesday’s exchange of artillery fire.

China’s special representative for the Korean Peninsula Wu Dawei, who is also a Vice-Foreign Minister, made the proposal at a hurriedly-scheduled press briefing here on Sunday afternoon. He suggested that the consultations could be held in Beijing in early December.

He said China believed it was “necessary” for the heads of delegations of the Six-Party Talks to “exchange views on major issues” and make contributions “to ease tensions in Northeast Asia.” The talks have been stalled for two years after North Korea conducted missile tests and quit the talks.

“The Six-Party Talks play an important role in strengthening communication between parties, advancing de-nuclearisation and safeguarding peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” Mr. Wu said.

Mr. Wu said December’s consultations would not signal a resumption of the talks, but China hoped it would create conditions for doing so.

The U.S. and South Korea have been reluctant to resume the stalled talks, saying that North Korea should abandon its controversial nuclear programme as a prerequisite. U.S. special envoy to North Korea Stephen Bosworth appeared to rule out a resumption of the talks during a visit to Beijing last week, citing Pyongyang’s revelation earlier this month of a new uranium enrichment facility. The talks were set up by the six countries to move towards de-nuclearisation of the peninsula, proposing that the North abandon its nuclear programme in return for aid.

“China’s consistent position is that the Six-Party talks must be resumed at an early date,” Mr. Wu said. “I would like to stress that although the proposed consultations do not mean resumption of the Six-Party Talks, we hope they will create conditions for the resumption [of the talks],” he added.

China has stepped up its diplomatic efforts in recent days in a bid to address the crisis on the Korean Peninsula following last Tuesday’s exchange of artillery fire. The violence, which marked the most serious escalation in tensions since the end of the Korean war in 1953, left at least four dead and 18 injured on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which was shelled by the North.

South Korea and the U.S. began four-day joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea, west of the peninsula, on Sunday, a move the North criticised as bringing the region to the “brink of war” .

China’s State Councillor Dai Bingguo also held talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak in Seoul on Sunday. Mr. Wu said he had a two hour and 15 minute meeting with Mr. Lee, during which the two sides agreed to work together to achieve peace and stability.

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