07/12/2006, 00.00
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China's Hu Jintao urges North Korea not to aggravate diplomatic crisis

In an unusual public appeal to Kim Jong-il's regime, the Chinese president, seriously concerned over the North Korean missile test crisis, calls for a concrete commitment to peace.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday issued an unusual public appeal to North Korea to avoid aggravating tensions with its missile test programme, as the US and Japan urged Beijing to press its ally for concessions and an end to testing.

To the visiting vice-president of North Korea's parliament, Yang Hyong-sop, Hu said: "We are against any actions that will aggravate the situation. We hope that relevant parties will do more things conducive to the peace and stability of the peninsula."

"China," he added, "has always been committed to maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and insisted on resolving the relevant issues through peaceful dialogue and negotiations. We ask all sides to remain calm".

The Chinese president explained that Beijing was "seriously concerned" about what was happening, and called for progress in stalled six-nation talks over North Korea's nuclear programme.

The comments by Mr Hu, who rarely speaks publicly about Kim Jong-il's regime, represent an unusually firm stance by Beijing and according to some analysts appear to reflect growing Chinese frustration with its historical ally.

Mr Yang's arrival in Beijing coincides with a visit to Pyongyang by China's top negotiator on the North Korean nuclear issue, Wu Dawei.

Last week's tests—seven missiles either set off over or launched into the Sea of Japan—have resulted in a series of diplomatic exchanges with Japan, the United States and other member countries of the UN Security Council.

Tokyo and Washington want to impose sanctions on the Pyongyang, but China, Russia and South Korea prefer the path of dialogue.

A vote on the matter, scheduled to take place two days ago, was unanimously postponed to enable Beijing to pursue its diplomatic efforts in favour of a peaceful solution.

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