China repeated its call for calm and restraint on the Korean peninsula as a U.S. aircraft carrier patrolled its coast and a North Korean official visited Beijing.
“The parties concerned should keep calm and exercise restraint, and work to bring the situation back onto the track of dialogue and negotiation,” the official Xinhua News Agency cited Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as saying today at a forum in Beijing.
The comments coincide with top North Korean official Choe Thae Bok’s meeting in Beijing today with a member of China’s legislature. China on Nov. 28 proposed "emergency consultations" with negotiators from the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the U.S. to defuse tensions following North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island last week that killed four people.
A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is now conducting exercises in the Yellow Sea off the Korean coast with the South Korean navy in a show of force meant to demonstrate solidarity between the two allies. Choe is chairman of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly.
Yang said holding six-nation talks in Beijing would "help ease the current tension," according to Xinhua. Japan has rejected the proposal, while White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Nov. 29 that the U.S. wasn’t interested “in stabilizing the region through a series of P.R. activities.” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it would consider China’s call for talks "very cautiously."
China is the host of the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. Last week Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy for the Korean nuclear issue, said the negotiations won’t start up again until North Korea takes actions to curb its uranium-enrichment program. Yesterday North Korea confirmed it had such a program, though it said it was for peaceful energy use.