‘China worried over South Korean military exercise plans’

Saturday, December 18, 2010

SEOUL - China has said it was concerned over South Korean plans to hold artillery exercises on an island that recently came under attack by North Korea, a media report said Saturday.

China urged restraint and expressed its worries over the day of live-firing exercises scheduled for between Dec 18 and 21, the Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a South Korean government source.

“In concert with its existing position, China called for calm and restraint to curb mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” a diplomatic source in Seoul told Yonhap.

South Korean Ambassador to China Yu Woo Ik was told of China’s position Friday by Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, the source said.

The exercises on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea were likely to be put back a day or two due to bad weather Saturday, Yonhap News Agency reported, quoting a military source.

Yeonpyeong Island was hit by dozens of artillery shells from the North Nov 23 that killed two civilians and two marines in what the Stalinist state said was retaliation for drills carried out by the South on the island.

Russia has asked South Korea not to stage the firing drills but the US has backed Seoul’s right to hold them.

The Stalinist state has threatened “a merciless counter-attack” if shells fired during exercises stray into its territorial waters.

South Korea has threatened to retaliate if the North attacks it again.

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