China is again calling for the United States and its allies to shoulder their responsibilities by joining in a regional meeting with North Korea to settle tensions in the region.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman renewed the appeal Tuesday as South Korea's president disclosed plans to turn five border islands into virtual fortresses. A day earlier in Washington, the foreign ministers from Japan and South Korea joined U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in demanding positive moves by Pyongyang before any meeting takes place.
Chinese spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the "responsibility for safeguarding peace and stability should be shouldered by all parties in the region." She renewed Beijing's call for all parties in the region to meet for "dialogue and negotiation."
In South Korea, military exercises continued ahead of a visit Wednesday by U.S. military chief Admiral Mike Mullen.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on a website that he wants to gradually turn five islands near North Korea's Yellow Sea coast into "military fortresses" while building up civilian communities on their territory.
South Korea has already reinforced garrisons on the islands and changed its rules of engagement since North Korea launched an artillery attack on Yeongpyeong Island last month. A week-long series of live-fire artillery drills around South Korea's coasts continued for a second day Tuesday.
Clinton and the two foreign ministers met in Washington Monday to discuss how to respond to that attack and the disclosure that North Korea has a sophisticated uranium enrichment facility.
The three called for North Korea to show a "seriousness of purpose" ahead of any talks, and expressed hope that China will push Pyongyang to take appropriate steps.
A report Monday in The Washington Post said U.S. officials believe China's refusal to denounce North Korean actions has given Pyongyang a free hand to defy world opinion. In Beijing Tuesday, Jiang rejected the report as "irresponsible."