China urges North Korea not to test missile
Updated: 2006-06-29 09:32 Chinese premier urged North Korea on Wednesday to
desist from firing a long-range missile, while South Korea called on the United
States to talk directly with North Korea to forestall a launch.
Premier Wen Jiabao said China was paying close attention to information that
North Korea may be preparing a test-launch and urged Pyongyang to avoid any
actions that would aggravate regional tensions and further derail long-stalled
negotiations on the North's nuclear fuel programs.
China's Premier Wen Jiabao (R)
and Australian Prime Minister John Howard shake hands at the opening
ceremony of the Guangdong Liquefied Natural Gas Project Phase at Dapeng
Bay in China's southern coast city of Shenzhen June 28, 2006.
"We hope that the various parties will proceed from the greater interest of
maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula and refrain from taking measures
that will worsen the situation," Wen said at a joint news conference with
visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
Wen's remarks Wednesday were the first time the senior Chinese leadership
acknowledged concerns about a possible missile launch in the two weeks since
intelligence reports detected North Korean preparations.
"No country in the world has a greater influence on North Korea than China
has," said Howard, in Shenzhen to inaugurate deliveries of Australian natural
gas and discuss a free-trade agreement with Wen.
According to intelligence reports, the missile, a Taepodong-2, was being
fueled at a launch pad on North Korea's northeastern coast. A US government
estimate puts the range of the Taepodong-2 missile at between 5,000 and 7,500
miles, making it capable of reaching the United States.
A senior South Korean official urged Washington to talk directly
with Pyongyang, a demand a North Korean diplomat has hinted at but that the Bush
administration has refused.