US allies to meet on North Korea as war games end

US` Hillary will meet with foreign ministers of Japan, S Korea on Monday.

Seoul: The US and South Korean Navies ended a major show of strength intended to deter North Korea from repeating last week`s deadly artillery bombardment, while Washington announced new talks with its allies on the rising tensions.

The allies` biggest-ever joint manoeuvre, which saw jet fighters thunder through the sky above a US carrier battle group, began days after Pyongyang stunned the world with an artillery strike on a South Korean border island.

The US announced talks with allies South Korea and Japan on the soaring tensions with North Korea, rejecting China`s call for broader negotiations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea on Monday.

"This demonstrates the close coordination between the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan and our commitment to security in the Korean Peninsula and stability in the region," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

"We are not interested in talks, and talks are no substitute for having North Korea fulfil its international obligations, meet its commitments and cease provocations," Crowley said.

China -- strongly opposed to the display of allied firepower in the Yellow Sea, which it views as its backyard -- called for all parties involved in the crisis to avoid actions that "inflame the situation".

"The parties concerned should keep calm and exercise restraint and work to bring the situation back onto the track of dialogue and negotiation," Xinhua news agency quoted Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as saying.

"The danger of further attacks from North Korea is high," Seoul`s spy chief was quoted as telling a closed session of Parliament`s intelligence committee.

The North staged the attack in search of a breakthrough because its people are increasingly aggrieved over economic difficulties and over plans to transfer power from leader Kim Jong-Il to his youngest son, a committee member National Intelligence Service director Won Sei-Hoon was quoted as saying.

Won also said the South had confirmed through electronic surveillance back in August that the North was planning to attack one of the five frontline islands near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

The North says its November 23 attack, which killed two civilians and two soldiers on Yeonpyeong island, was in retaliation for South Korean shells landing in its waters during a military drill earlier that day.

Seoul insists the North`s attack was carefully planned and premeditated to rally support for the heir apparent.

The South`s military said the allies would repeat the naval exercises, which demonstrate a firm commitment to "sternly respond to any North Korean provocation".

The four-day joint military drill passed without incident even though the North had warned it brought the peninsula to "the brink of war".

Bureau Report