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N. Korea agrees on emergency six-way talks: Beijing
By Kim Young-gyo
HONG KONG, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has agreed to China's proposal to hold emergency discussions among chief envoys to the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament in a bid to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula, China's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

   Beijing proposed on Nov. 28 that the lead negotiators from the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia meet at an early date to discuss ways of easing inter-Korean tension sparked by the North's shelling of a South Korean island.

   "The agreement was reached when Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang last week," Jiang Yu, spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, said in a regular press briefing.

   "China and North Korea have agreed that the two sides should prevent the tense situation from further escalating and put constructive effort in building peace on the Korean Peninsula, while maintaining calmness and restraint," Jiang said.
The visit came as China, North Korea's closest political ally and largest benefactor, has been under growing international pressure to exercise its influence over Pyongyang to discourage the belligerent regime from further provocations.

   Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have come to a head after North Korea fired artillery on a South Korean island near the disputed maritime border on Nov. 23. The North's attack on Yeonpyeong Island, which is home to fishing communities and military bases, killed two South Korean marines and as many civilians, and left 18 others wounded.

   Dai, who advises top Chinese officials on foreign policy, made an unannounced trip to Seoul at the end of November and paid a visit to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to discuss measures for easing tensions on the peninsula.

   A high-level U.S. delegation, led by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, is expected to arrive in China later Tuesday in an effort to urge Beijing to play a greater role in reining in Pyongyang.