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China: Korean Tensions Must Be Defused (The Wall Street Journal )
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China: Korean Tensions Must Be
Defused

SEOUL—Leaders of China, Japan and South Korea on Sunday left their annual summit meeting divided on how to deal with North Korea's alleged sinking of a South Korean warship.

 

European Pressphoto Agency

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, left, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao didn't give a clear signal whether his country would support South Korea's effort to penalize North Korea at the United Nations Security Council for destroying the South's warship Cheonan in March. China, as one of five permanent members of the council, can veto any action.

 

"What is most pressing right now is to gradually ease any tension created by the Cheonan incident, and we should avoid a clash," Mr. Wen said at a news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

 

The three countries have long worked together to prod North Korea into giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But they have at various times taken different approaches to working with Pyongyang economically. Now, South Korea's belief that North Korea is responsible for the sinking of its Cheonan warship has become the most urgent security matter in the region. Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the March 26 incident.

 

South Korea plans to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council as soon as this week. Mr. Hatoyama on Sunday said that's a "natural course" after such an incident and encouraged South Korea to proceed.

 

Full-throated support by China was too much to expect, analysts say, because the country is North Korea's chief economic benefactor and political ally. But during his three days in South Korea, Mr. Wen took small steps to signal that Beijing remains open to learning more about what happened.

 

Mr. Wen on Saturday offered condolences to the families of the South Korean victims. A day earlier, he said China will review South Korea's investigation, which turned up evidence of a torpedo blast on the salvaged ship and parts of a North Korean torpedo in the area where it sank, and won't protect anyone responsible for it.

 

After the summit, Mr. Lee said he believed that Messrs. Wen and Hatoyama "highly regarded" South Korea's investigation into the sinking, involving a 74-person committee with both civilian and military experts, including 24 from the U.S., Canada and other countries.

 

"The leaders of the three countries agreed to continue our consultation on this issue and appropriately respond to this in order to maintain peace and security," Mr. Lee said.

 

 

Three leaders from China, Japan and South Korea meet at an annual summit overshadowed by heightened tensions on the Korean penninsula. Video Courtesy of Reuters.

 

Mr. Lee's spokesman later told reporters that the South Korean delegation was encouraged that China permitted the joint press release from the summit to mention the sinking.

 

Mr. Hatoyama said the three countries agreed the sinking is "a serious matter for peace and stability in Northeast Asia." On Saturday, he visited the cemetery where the South Korean sailors were buried.

 

North Korea blames South Korea for the sinking and, since the South Korean investigation was made public on May 20, has issued a series of statements and conducted events to draw attention to its point of view.

 

In the latest event, thousands of people gathered Sunday at Kim Il Sung Square in the middle of Pyongyang for a protest rally against Seoul and the U.S. The North's government regularly tells citizens to be fearful of invasion by South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. It is using the South's implication of it in the Cheonan sinking to stoke war fears at home and boost its legitimacy.

 

In other developments at the three-way summit, China, Japan and South Korea said they would reduce technical standards that form trade barriers between them. And they formally launched a joint study for a trilateral free trade agreement with a target completion date in 2012. If the study proves successful, they may subsequently undertake FTA negotiations.

 

The leaders also said they would step discussions of law enforcement cooperation and a dialogue between defense ministries. They also signed a pledge to boost exchanges of students and other groups between the countries.

 

The three-way meeting was the third within two years, after sessions in Japan in December 2008 and China last October.

[ 2010-06-01, 16:03 ] 조회수 : 2837
출처 : The Wall Street Journal