South Korea asks China to intercede in Korean conflict

Sunday, November 28, 2010

SEOUL - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Sunday asked China to take a “fair and responsible” attitude toward aggressive actions by North Korea that have heightened the risk of war, Lee’s office said.

Lee conveyed the message to Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who arrived in Seoul as a special envoy of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Lee requested that “China act in a fairer and more responsible way in dealing with South-North Korea relations and contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula”, presidential spokesman Hong Sang-pyo said.

Military tensions have escalated since the North launched an artillery attack on a populated South Korean border island in the Yellow Sea Tuesday, killing two troops and two civilians.

The US and South Korean militaries also began their largest ever joint naval drills Sunday, and Pyongyang has threatened war.

China has stopped short of condemning the North’s attack, and instead accused Washington and Seoul of provoking tensions with the joint exercises. But Beijing was also working behind the scenes to defuse the situation.

Yonhap said that while China has by far the most political and economic leverage over its communist ally, some analysts see Beijing’s influence waning as Pyongyang takes increasing harder nuclear and military positions.

President Lee said South Korea would “strongly respond” if the North staged another attack, Hong said.

Lee “asked China to play a role to match its new status in dealing with inter-Korean relations to pursue coexistence and peace in the 21st century after the end of the Cold War in the 20th century”, Hong said.

Dai expressed condolences from China’s leaders over the loss of lives in the North’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island last Tuesday.

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