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China Seeks Reduced Tension Between Koreas

  • Kurt Achin

China has wrapped up a three way summit with neighboring South Korea and Japan by calling for calm amid escalating tensions. South Korea and its partners have yet to win China's firm support of an investigation blaming North Korea for the deadly sinking of a South Korean naval ship.

The leaders of South Korea, Japan and China wrapped up their two day meeting on the South Korean resort island of Jeju vowing to work together on vital issues of regional security, including a response to the March sinking of a South Korean patrol ship, the Cheonan.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says it is urgent to defuse tension on the Korean peninsula related to the Cheonan sinking.

He says the pressing task is to respond appropriately to the serious effects of the Cheonan incident, to gradually reduce tensions, and especially to avoid a clash.

A team of international investigators presented extensive forensic evidence this month concluding the Cheonan was torn in half and sunk by a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine - 46 sailors were killed in the incident.

Soon after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak severed economic ties to the North in response, North Korea said it was scrapping military safeguard agreements designed to prevent conflicts from escalting between the two sides. The United States and South Korea prepare for joint anti-submarine drills in coming weeks, a step Pyongyang has warned could trigger "all-out war."

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama says the three leaders share a common view about the Cheonan sinking.

He says this is a serious problem related to peace and stability in the Northeast Asia. The three countries confirmed that that we can closely cooperate in the future on the matter, he says.

Japan and the United States fully back the Cheonan investigation, and say they will support South Korea in its request for diplomatic action against North Korea by the United Nations Security Council. China, which is historically reluctant do anything that destabilizes the North, says it still needs time to come to a "fair and objective" conclusion of its own.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says all three leaders will keep talking.

He says the Japanese and Chinese leaders took seriously the investigation results and the international response to them. They will agree to keep discussing the matter with peace and stability in mind.

In the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, the government organized a mass rally of tens of thousands Sunday to condemn the Cheonan investigation. Choi Yong Rim is secretary of the North Korea Workers' Party.

Comrades, he says, the North-South relationship is being driven to catastrophe by the war-loving "puppet" government of South Korea and the American invaders. Their hard line attitude, he says, could soon lead to war.

Other protesters rallied here in the South Korean capital to support punishing Pyongyang.