China welcomes inter-Korean talks

Relations between Seoul, Pyongyang became increasingly fraught during 2010.

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 09:18 AM IST

Beijing: Beijing has welcomed proposed talks between military officers from North and South Korea, the first since a deadly artillery attack sent relations on the peninsula into a tailspin.

"We welcome and support the move by North Korea and South Korea to improve their relations through dialogue, moving towards reconciliation and cooperation," said foreign affairs spokesman Hong Lei, according to a posting on the ministry`s website.

"We hope this dialogue will bring about a positive result."

Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang became increasingly fraught during 2010, marked by the sinking of a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 sailors in March and the deadly shelling of a border island in November.

But since the beginning of the year, North Korea has made a series of overtures to the South, and on Thursday Seoul said it would accept an offer of high level military talks.

Seoul`s Unification Ministry, however, stuck to its terms for dialogue -- that the North accept responsibility for the two attacks, promise no repetition and show sincerity about nuclear disarmament.

Washington has repeatedly demanded that Beijing put pressure on its recalcitrant ally -- something China has publicly appeared unwilling to do.

US President Barack Obama told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, who has been in Washington this week, that North Korea poses a threat to American territory.

Obama said the US was considering redeploying its Asia-based forces to counter any possible attack from the North.

Bureau Report