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(2nd LD) China FM warns of 'chaos,' flagging veiled criticism of N. Korea

2013/09/18 15:44

(ATTN: ADDS fresh quotes in last 5 paras, background in paras 9-10)

By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- In another veiled criticism of its wayward ally North Korea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday accused nations of trying to bring "chaos" to Northeast Asia, while calling for a swift resumption of the long-stalled talks on the North's nuclear program.

"No one should attempt to bring chaos to this region or pursue selfish interests," Wang told a forum in Beijing organized by his ministry to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear ambitions.

Wang did not mention North Korea by name, but his remarks were echoed by similar comments by Chinese President Xi Jinping in April that, "No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains."

   North Korea spiked tensions on the Korean Peninsula earlier this year, by defying international warnings, including those of China, and conducting its third nuclear test in February. At one point, Pyongyang threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington.

Tensions have been gradually eased and the two Koreas are now engaged in dialogues on inter-Korean reconciliation projects. This week, Seoul and Pyongyang resumed operations at the inter-Korean industrial complex that was shut down in April amid heightened military tensions.

"Recently, there have been positive changes on the Korean Peninsula," Wang said. "The situation has moved from a high degree of tensions to relative relaxation, and from strong and serious confrontation to the restart of talks."

   However, Wang said, "The situation on the peninsula is still fragile and uncertain.

"Therefore, the parties should properly handle and approach the situation, exercise restraint, avoid provocative measures against each other in order to maintain the current momentum of relaxation," Wang said.

However, a U.S. institute said last week, citing a recent satellite image, that North Korea appears to have restarted a plutonium-producing reactor in Yongbyon, a move that may give the country more fissile fuel to make bombs.

The Soviet-built five-megawatt reactor has long been at the center of international focus as it is believed to have been used by North Korea to obtain weapons-grade plutonium to make bombs in the 1990s and 2000s.

The one-day forum in Beijing, which was attended by North Korea's chief nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, came amid renewed efforts by China to revive the six-party channel, but South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have shown a cool response in the absence of a clear North Korean willingness to disarm.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gives a speech during a forum in Beijing on Sept. 18 (Yonhap)

Repeating China's long-held stance, Wang called for nations involved in the six-party talks to restart the multilateral process "at an early date."

   "On the basis of reaffirming their commitment to denuclearization, they should demonstrate sincerity for the resolution of this issue and take constructive steps for dialogue and a restart of the six-party talks at an early date," Wang said.

"By doing so, the Korean nuclear issue can be put on a sustainable and irreversible process of solution," he said.

The off-and-on forum that involves the two Koreas, China, the U.S., Japan and Russia has been stalled since late 2008.

"Looking back on the 10 years of torturous process of the six-party talks, we found that, whenever all parties were committed to dialogue and consultations, the situation on the Korean Peninsula maintained stability and, whenever the six-party talks were stalled, the peninsula situation faced a tense situation and even got out of control," Wang said.

"All of us should take concrete actions to cherish and uphold the strategic value of the six-party talks," the Chinese foreign minister said.

Wang, however, conceded that restarting the six-party process is not an overnight task.

"Mankind's pursuit for peace and security has never been smooth sailing," he said.

"The Korean Peninsula, which is not far from here, is still in a state of Cold War, as evidenced by political mistrust, military tensions and a lack of economic cooperation."