The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea have all met to discuss a planned rocket launch by North Korea, which some suspect may be a disguised ballistic missile test.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi hosted talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Sunday, expressing concern over escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula as the North prepares for a rocket launch.
Beijing's official news agency Xinhua reported that Yang told both ministers separately on Saturday that China was "concerned and worried about the latest development on the Korean peninsula."
"It is in the common interest of all sides to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and realize long-term peace and stability in northeast Asia," Yang said. "China hopes all parties involved will keep calm and exert restraint."
North Korea has announced plans to launch a rocket sometime between April 12 and 16 in honor of what would have been the 100th birthday of its late founding leader, Kim Il-Sung, on April 15. Pyongyang said the rocket will put a satellite into orbit to research crops and natural resources.
The move angered the United States and its regional allies Japan and South Korea, who regard it as a thinly-veiled ballistic missile test in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Both Japan and South Korea have warned that they may shoot down parts of the North Korean rocket if they threaten their territory. Japan reportedly deployed missile batteries in Tokyo and sent out three destroyers carrying sea-based interceptor missiles into the East China sea.
acb/tj (AFP, AP)