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China urges resumption of North Korea talks

China's UN ambassador has called for the speedy resumption of six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

world Updated: Mar 03, 2011 08:09 IST

China's UN ambassador has called for the speedy resumption of six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Li Baodong told a news conference that the talks involving North and South Korea, China, the US, Japan and Russia are the only way to achieve progress.

The talks began in 2003 but stalled in December 2008. Washington and Seoul have said North Korea must fulfill past nuclear disarmament commitments before talks can resume.

But Li called for talks to resume "as soon as possible," saying that when talks stall the situation on the Korean peninsula is "mostly unstable and dangerous."

Tensions between the two Koreas have been at their highest level in years since North Korea showered artillery on a South Korean-held island near their disputed maritime border in November, killing four South Koreans. The attack was the first on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War, and occurred in waters not far from the spot where a South Korean warship sank eight months earlier, killing 46 sailors.

Friction mounted this week following Monday's start of the annual South Korean-US military drills, which North Korea has called a rehearsal for invasion that could trigger a nuclear war. The North's military has also warned that it would attack South Korean border towns if Seoul allows activists to send balloons carrying leaflets critical of Pyongyang.

Li said China's priorities are maintaining peace and security on the Korean peninsula, safeguarding the International Atomic Energy Agency's nuclear non-proliferation regime, and promoting solutions to outstanding issues through dialogue.