SKorea orders journalists off front-line island

The South Korean Defence minister said journalists must leave because the "situation is not good" on Yeonpyeong Island, which was targeted last week by a deadly North Korean barrage.

Earlier today, the sound of new artillery fire from North Korea sent residents and journalists on a front-line island, scrambling for cover.

None of the rounds landed on Yeonpyeong Island, military officials said, but the incident showed how tense and uncertain the situation remains along the Koreas' disputed maritime border five days after a North Korean artillery attack decimated parts of the island and killed four South Koreans.

As the rhetoric from North Korea escalated, with new warnings of a "merciless" assault if further provoked, a top Chinese official made a last-minute visit to Seoul to confer with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Washington and Seoul have urged China, North Korea's main ally and benefactor, to help defuse the situation amid fears of all-out war. Beijing has called for restraint on all sides.

Lee pressed State Councillor Dai Bingguo, a senior foreign policy adviser, to contribute to peace in a "more objective, responsible" matter, and warned that Seoul would respond "strongly" to any further provocation, his office said in a statement.

Dai forwarded Beijing's condolences and pledged China's help in preventing tensions from worsening, Lee's office said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, Choe Thae Bok, was due to visit Beijing starting Tuesday, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

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