China Urges Peace on North Korean Peninsula

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 3:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Chinese President Hu Jintao is pledging to make what he calls “unremitting efforts” to keep peace on the Korean peninsula during talks with South Korea's president.

China's official Xinhua news agency said Mr. Hu told his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, in Beijing Monday that stability on the peninsula is his main concern. He said it is in the interest of all parties to safeguard the peace of the region.

South Korean officials say Mr. Lee and Mr. Hu exchanged candid views on the situation on the Korean peninsula and agreed to work together on the issue.

Beijing and Seoul are closely watching nuclear-armed North Korea amid concerns of instability after the death of North Korea's longtime leader, Kim Jong-Il. China has thrown its support behind Mr. Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong-Un.

South Korean officials say the two leaders also agreed to begin domestic procedures needed to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement.

Mr. Lee arrived in Beijing Monday. During his three-day trip, he is also expected to meet with China's top legislator.

Mr. Lee has expressed a wish for better relations with the North, but has also promised a strong reaction to any provocation.

The North has harshly criticized the South's leaders since Kim Jong-Un was declared successor to his father, threatening unspecified retaliation against Seoul for perceived insults during official mourning for Kim Jong-Il.

Tensions between the two Koreas rose more than a year ago when Seoul accused Pyongyang of sinking a warship near the disputed sea border, known as the Northern Limit Line. Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in the March 2010 attack.

Relations worsened after the North bombarded South Korea's Yeopyeong island in November 2010, killing four people.

North Korean officials have sent a message to the world not to expect any changes in the communist country's policies.