News Column

Defense Chiefs, China Discuss North Korea Threats

April 3, 2013

Chinese and US defence chiefs discussed North Korea by telephone on Wednesday amid growing tension on the Korean Peninsula and threats of military action by Pyongyang.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan that the two nations should cooperate to halt North Korea's "growing threat," Pentagon press secretary George Little said.

"The secretary emphasized the growing threat to the US and our allies posed by North Korea's aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes," Little said.

He said Hagel "expressed to General Chang the importance of sustained US-China dialogue and cooperation on these issues," Little said.

Chinese state media said Hagel and Chang "exchanged views on issues of common concern" but did not mention North Korea.

The talks between the defence chiefs followed two separate meetings on North Korea between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and the US and South Korean ambassadors in Beijing on Tuesday.

Zhang told state media he had expressed China's "serious concern about the current situation" on the Korean Peninsula to the ambassadors.

China "opposed any party's provocative words and actions" and wanted to maintain regional peace and stability, Zhang said.

"China strongly appeals to all parties to stay calm and exercise restraint," he was quoted as saying.

Tensions have risen since Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February led to a tightening of international sanctions against it.

The isolated communist regime has said its recent threats against the South and its ally the United States, including of a nuclear strike, were in response to the sanctions and to recent military drills.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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