South Korean, Chinese defence chiefs to meet in Feb

Tensions have risen to their highest in decades on divided Korean peninsula.

Seoul: Defence ministers from South Korea and China will hold talks in Beijing in February amid growing regional tension sparked by North Korea`s nuclear programmes and hostile acts, South Korea`s Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

"South Korea`s Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie plan to meet in Beijing in February. Details of the meeting agenda have not been discussed yet," a spokesperson for South Korea`s ministry said.

Tensions have risen to their highest in decades on the divided Korean peninsula after the North bombarded a South Korean island last month, and revealed major advances in its nuclear programme.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in November appointed Kim as new defence minister after Kim`s predecessor resigned after criticism of what was perceived as a weak response to aggression from the North, including a submarine attack in March and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last month.
North Korea on Thursday threatened a nuclear "sacred war" and South Korea vowed a "merciless counterattack" against any fresh provocations as both sides sharpened their rhetoric after military exercises in the South.

Pyongyang has offered to re-admit UN inspectors concerned about its nuclear weapons programme, prompting speculation that six-party talks including the North may resume, and the worst of the most recent crisis may be over.

Bureau Report