China urges ‘maximum restraint’ in Korean peninsula

Monday, December 20, 2010

NEW YORK - China Monday called for North and South Korea to exercise “maximum restraint” one day after the UN Security Council failed to adopt a common position to defuse the military crisis in the peninsula.

The deputy permanent representative of China to the UN, Wang Min, issued a statement saying that peace and stability in the peninsula is in the interest of the two sides as well as “other relevant parties”, which it did not name.

“We strongly appeal (to) relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint, act in a responsible manner and avoid increase of tensions,” Wang said.

He said China supported Russia’s call for an emergency session of the 15-nation council Sunday. But the session, which lasted eight hours behind closed doors, failed to heed a proposal by Russia to issue a call for maximum restraint and to send a UN envoy to convince both North and South Korea to avoid a new conflict.

Wang said in the Sunday meeting, “Members of the council, including China, the US and Russia made efforts to the extent possible to avoid armed conflict on the peninsula. The meeting was positive and of great importance.”

There was no mention of Britain and France, which with China, the US and Russia are the council’s five permanent members with veto power.

“China strongly urges both sides of the peninsula to keep calm and restraint, solve issues through peaceful dialogue and engagement,” he said. “China will continue to make our efforts towards this end.”

The council president, US Ambassador Susan Rice, told reporters late Sunday that it would be difficult to bridge the gap of differences among council members after what was said during the eight-hour meeting.

She said a vast majority of council members favoured a condemnation of North Korea for shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing two soldiers and two civilians. But it failed because there was no unanimous support by the council. Diplomats did not say which country opposed the condemnation.

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