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Acts against stability condemned

By Zhang Jin and Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-05-29 08:23
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Acts against stability condemned
Premier Wen Jiabao (left) and ROK President Lee Myung-bak wave to ROK children during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday. [Jo Yong-hak / Reuters]

China's position on sunken ROK ship will be fair, objective: Wen

Seoul - Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed strong condemnation and disapproval of any action that threatens the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, calling on all sides to keep calm and show restraint to avoid any regional conflict.

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"China objects to and condemns any act that damages the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," Wen told President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Lee Myung-bak, during talks about the ROK warship Cheonan that sank in March. Forty-six crew members of the vessel died in the incident.

Wen said China has attached great importance to the international probe on the sinking and any response to it.

He said "the Chinese government will decide its position by objectively and fairly judging what is right and wrong about the facts".

Wen called on all parties to stay calm, exercise restraint to avoid the escalation of the situation and jointly maintain the hard-won peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Relevant sides should keep the future in mind and actively push for progress on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) nuclear talks to realize long-term peace on the peninsula.

Lee also briefed his Chinese guest on the results of the investigation on the sinking and his counter measures. He said he hopes China will play an important role in seeking a proper solution.

Seoul, with support from Washington and Tokyo, is planning to ask the UN Security Council to "punish Pyongyang" for the sinking of the vessel and it expected to seek the support of Beijing, which is a veto-wielding member of the council.

Wen said China hopes the ROK government properly handles the incident. The country is willing to maintain close communication with the ROK, he said.

The premier's visit to the ROK, his first in three years, is officially aimed at discussing ways to develop a "strategic cooperative partnership" between the two countries, including a proposed free trade agreement.

But the latest dispute over the sinking of the ship is set to dominate his stay as hostilities rise on the peninsula. Wen and Lee's position is also expected to set the tone for discussions on the sunken ship at a trilateral summit this weekend on the ROK's Cheju island. The summit also involves Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The two- and three-way talks will affect the timing of the ROK's formal request to the UN Security Council, Yonhap News Agency quoted officials as saying.

On Friday, Tokyo decided to tighten financial sanctions against Pyongyang, extending regulations on remittances to the country.

The latest confrontation between Pyongyang and Seoul began when multinational investigators said last week there was "overwhelming evidence" that a Pyongyang submarine had fired a torpedo to sink the corvette.

Pyongyang has denied responsibility and has warned that any retaliation or punishment will mean war.

The DPRK military held its first press briefing on Friday on the "Cheonan incident". Pak Rim-su, head of the Policy Bureau of the DPRK's National Defense Commission (NDC), told the briefing that investigation results released by the ROK on the incident could not be "objective and fair" due to the composition of the investigation team.

The ROK claim was based on results of an investigation led by a multi-national team including ROK, US, British and Australian members.

He also said civilian members of the team had only limited access to the main work of the investigation and some investigators who expressed different opinions were even driven out of the team.

The ROK has asked China to send experts to check the findings of the investigation but Beijing has not responded yet, Yonhap reported. Russia, which is also a veto-wielding Security Council member, said it is sending experts to Seoul to assess the evidence.

Xinhua, Agencies contributed to the story.