China calls for six-party talks, S Korea reacts cautiously

China calls for six-party talks, S Korea reacts cautiously

China, which sent its top diplomat Dai Bingguo to Seoul yesterday to hold talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak today said that heads of the delegations of six countries, including United States, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas besides China should hold talks next month.

Fresh tensions on the Korean peninsula were sparked off following North Korea's shelling of a South Korean island on November 23, that killed four South Koreans.

Representatives of the six countries held talks for the first time in 2005 to deal with the crisis arising out of North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons and have continued their dialogue ever since.

"I want to stress that a series of complicated factors have emerged on the Korean peninsula, which made the international community and the members of six party talks deeply concerned," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who visited Seoul along with Dai, told a hurriedly convened press briefing here today.

He said the Chinese side believes it is necessary for the delegation of the six-party talks who had the important task of fully implementing the 2005 joint statement to bring about peace and stability in the Korean peninsula, to meet and exchange views to make due contribution in maintaining peace in the peninsula and easing tensions in Northeast Asia.

Wu, who was part of the Chinese delegation headed by State Councillor Dai that visited Seoul yesterday, made the statement immediately after returning today.

He declined to take any questions. The South reacted cautiously to Chinese proposal for resumption of the six-nation talks saying that it "should be studied deliberately". The government will "take note of China's proposal," the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said.

However, Pyongyang's recent moves, including disclosing construction site of a light-water nuclear reactor and uranium enrichment facilities, and a recent artillery barrage on a South Korean island, "caused negative effects" on efforts by relevant parties, he was quoted by the Chinese official media here as saying.

In this case, the proposal on consultations among heads of delegation to the six-party talks "should be studied deliberately," Kim said.

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