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Drills 'not worth response'

Updated: 2010-12-21 07:03

By Qin Jize (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said that it "was not worth reacting" to "military provocation" by the Republic of Korea (ROK), in a statement from its army command referring to the hour-long live-fire artillery drills conducted by the ROK on Yeonpyeong Island on Monday.

Drills 'not worth response'
Protesters shout slogans during a rally denouncing the ROK’s live-fire drill on Yeonpyeong Island, in Seoul on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

There was no retaliation from Pyongyang to the drills though it vowed earlier that the situation on the Korean Peninsula would "explode" if Seoul went ahead with the exercises, similar to those carried out last month that led to an exchange of fire between the two Koreas.

Following the ROK drills, Beijing called for calm and restraint on the peninsula, saying no one had a right to "preach or promote conflict".

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"China has always believed that peace and stability must be maintained on the peninsula. This is a goal we have been working very hard to achieve," Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told reporters.

"No one has any right to preach or promote conflict or war, and no one has any right to cause bloodshed between the people in the north and south of the peninsula," he said .

Cui insisted that dialogue was the only way forward, adding that in recent weeks and months China has conducted intensive diplomacy with the relevant parties concerning the peninsula.

"Whatever the differences and disputes relevant parties may have, they can only be addressed through dialogue and negotiation rather than by conflict or war," he added.

Monday's exercise came just hours after the UN Security Council met in New York, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- a former US ambassador to the United Nations -- met with officials in Pyongyang in a bid to diffuse tension.

CNN reported that during Richardson's unofficial visit, Pyongyang agreed to a series of actions, including allowing the return of UN inspectors to nuclear facilities and to consider a proposal on setting up a military commission and a hotline between Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington.

In another development, Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Monday amid tension on the peninsula.

Zhang Liangui, an expert on Korean affairs at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, warned that the possibility of conflict remains.

Though the DPRK did not retaliate, as it had threatened to, the two sides were still on the verge of war, Zhang said.

"There is little chance of easing the current tension, not to mention solving their basic distrust."

Even if there is no response from the DPRK now, it does not mean that there will not be any more attacks, he said.

"It is possible that Pyongyang is trying to avoid responding to a well-prepared ROK. It tends to choose a particular time and place to fight back, the current calmness might be just a tactic."

Wang Chenyan and agencies contributed to this story.

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