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(LEAD) China 'very concerned' about S. Korea-U.S. military drills

2016/03/07 18:05

(ATTN: ADDS quote, details in last 5 paras)

BEIJING, March 7 (Yonhap) -- China's foreign ministry said Monday it was "very concerned" about the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the United States, saying it will not allow any trouble at its doorstep.

The annual military drills, which both South Korea and the U.S. say are defensive in nature and necessary to better cope with North Korea's aggression, come after the North's fourth nuclear test and rocket launch earlier this year.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that Beijing takes note of North Korea's harsh verbal threats against the military drills.

"China is also very concerned about the military drills," Hong said.

"China is firmly opposed to any action that causes trouble" on the Korean Peninsula, Hong said. "We will not accept any trouble-making behavior on our doorstep."

   North Korea threatened pre-emptive and "indiscriminate" nuclear strikes against the South Korea-U.S. drills.

Asked about the North's nuclear threats, Hong urged the "relevant parties" to exercise restraint.

North Korea's harsh rhetoric against the annual drills between South Korea and the U.S. are not uncommon, but it came days after the U.N. Security Council adopted tougher sanctions to punish the North for its nuclear test and rocket launch.

China's vigorous cooperation is the key to ensure the effectiveness of the new U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

The new U.N. resolution limits or bans exports of North Korean coal and iron ore if they are used for the North's nuclear and missile programs. One of the potential loopholes is a provision that allows North Korea to continue exports of coal and iron ore if such transactions are for "livelihood purposes."

   China is a major importer of North Korean coal and iron ore, but Hong said the new U.N. resolution "has a definite target that is to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programs without impacting the well-being and humanitarian needs of the North Korean people."

   "All parties should fully and earnestly implement the resolution without exacerbating or neglecting any aspects," Hong said.

kdh@yna.co.kr

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