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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

China reiterates pledge to be impartial in Korean crisis

RIA Novosti

11:09 01/06/2010

TOKYO, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - China will not take sides in the current crisis over the alleged sinking of a South Korean warship by a North Korean submarine, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday.

South Korea's 1,200-ton Cheonan corvette sank near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea on March 26 with the loss of 46 lives.

Although initial comments from South Korean naval and intelligence chiefs ruled out foul play, Seoul later accused North Korea of firing a torpedo from a submarine at the vessel.

Pyongyang claims the incident was "orchestrated" by the U.S. in order to "hype the threat from North Korea" ahead of "Congress mid-term elections slated for the coming November."

"China has no intention of defending one side or another. No matter which decision is taken, it has to lead to the stabilization [of the situation on the Korean Peninsula," Wen said in an interview with the NHK television at the end of his three-day official visit to Japan.

South Korea, the United States and Japan plan to apply to the UN Security Council for sanctions against Pyongyang for its alleged involvement in sinking the Cheonan corvette, in addition to unilateral measures against the reclusive communist regime.

"All countries must act responsibly to avoid the escalation of the conflict. South Korea would suffer the most in a clash [with N. Korea]. This would also affect China," the Chinese premier said.

Beijing earlier said it would draw its own conclusions on the sinking of the ship after carefully studying all information provided by the parties involved.

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