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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, China urge restraint over tensions on Korea peninsula

RIA Novosti

11/03/2009 16:31 MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian and Chinese foreign ministers expressed concern over rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and called on all sides to refrain from dangerous actions, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Seoul and Washington began on Monday exercises codenamed Key Resolve/Foal Eagle involving 50,000 South Korean and 26,000 U.S. service personnel and a U.S. aircraft carrier. The annual exercises are due to end on March 20.

North Korea has put its armed forces on full combat readiness and cut off the only direct hotline with South Korea's military in response to the exercises, which it considers a preparation for a war. The United States and South Korea say the drills are purely defensive.

"The ministers called on all sides involved to show restraint and composure, and to refrain from any actions that could undermine security and stability in this region," the ministry said in a statement following a telephone conversation between Sergei Lavrov and Yang Jiechi on Tuesday.

North Korea earlier announced plans to launch a satellite using a three-stage rocket from the newly constructed Musudan-ri launch pad on the country's northeast coast.

However, Seoul and Washington believe the real purpose of a satellite launch would be to test a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which is thought to have a range of 6,700 kilometers (4,100 miles) and could possibly reach Alaska.

The reclusive Communist regime warned on Monday that any interference with the launch of a long-range missile it plans to test would be considered an act of war.

South and North Korea are formally in a state of war, as the 1950-1953 conflict on the Korean Peninsula ended only in a truce agreement, not in a peace treaty.

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