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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

China urges both Koreas to talk

RIA Novosti

17:54 24/11/2010

BEIJING, November 24 (RIA Novosti) - China on Wednesday expressed regret over the artillery exchange between North and South Korea and called on both countries to show restraint and start talks as soon as possible.

North Korea opened artillery fire on the South's Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea at 14:34 local time (05:34 GMT) on Tuesday, killing at least two South Korean marines and two civilians. Sixteen others were injured, along with three civilians. The South retaliated and warned of further strikes.

The North later accused South Korea of attacking first.

"China is paying close attention to the incident and feels regret over the loss of lives, injuries and damage to property," the Foreign Ministry said in statement on its website.

"China strongly urges North Korea and South Korea to show restraint and composure, and engage in a dialogue as soon as possible to a avoid recurrence of such incidents," the statement read.

After the incident the South Korean military was put on its highest non-war alert and President Lee Myung-bak said the North should be punished to prevent further provocation.

Western powers condemned the attack and warned against a further escalation. Russia called on both Koreas to refrain from the use of force.

The attack is the second incident in the tense Yellow Sea border area this year. In March, a North Korean submarine was alleged to have torpedoed a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, causing the loss of 46 lives.

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