ROK, China defence chiefs to meet in Feb

Updated: 2010-12-26 14:51
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SEOUL - Defence ministers from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China will hold talks in Beijing in February amid growing regional tension sparked by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear programmes and hostile acts, ROK's defence ministry said on Sunday.

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"South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie plan to meet in Beijing in February. Details of the meeting agenda have not been discussed yet," a spokesperson for South Korea's ministry said.

Tensions have risen to their highest in decades on the divided Korean peninsula after the DPRK bombarded a ROK island last month, and revealed major advances in its nuclear programme.

ROK President Lee Myung-bak in November appointed Kim as new defence minister after Kim's predecessor resigned after criticism of what was perceived as a weak response to aggression from the DPRK, including a submarine attack in March and the shelling of Yeonpyeong island last month.

DPRK on Thursday threatened a nuclear "sacred war" and ROK vowed a "merciless counterattack" against any fresh provocations as both sides sharpened their rhetoric after military exercises in the ROK.

Pyongyang has offered to re-admit UN inspectors concerned about its nuclear weapons programme, prompting speculation that six-party talks including the North may resume, and the worst of the most recent crisis may be over.