London/Beijing, Nov.28 (ANI): China has called for emergency international talks over North Korea, even as Pyongyang is reportedly preparing its missile batteries to counter a joint military exercise by the United States and South Korea.
A senior official in Beijing today suggested emergency talks between the six countries that had taken part in talks on Pyongyang's disarmament.
The Guardian quoted Wu Dawei, the Chinese envoy to the Korean peninsula, as saying that representatives from Pyongyang and Seoul, China, the US, Russia and Japan, who have been meeting over the last seven years to discuss North Korea's nuclear ambitions, should convene in Beijing early next month "to exchange views on major issues of concern".
The talks themselves, moribund for two years after North Korea walked out, look unlikely to be resumed, with Seoul's presidential office saying it was not the right time for such a move.
However, China's request for urgent international intervention is significant, given that it is one of North Korea's key allies.
The Seoul-based Yonhap news agency reported that Pyongyang had placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads along its Yellow Sea coastline.
The North's military is also aiming surface-to-air missiles at South Korean fighter jets flying near the western sea border, the agency added.
Two South Korean marines and two civilians died on Tuesday when the North unleashed, without warning, an artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong island, which hosts both a military garrison and a small fishing community.
The attack, seen as the most serious single military incident since the end of the war, destroyed dozens of homes , injured another 18 people, and set the South on a war footing.
North Korea described the civilian deaths as "regrettable" but blamed the South for placing residents on the island, which Pyongyang insists is North Korean territory, as human shields.
The North also condemned a major US-South Korea military drill in the Yellow Sea, which began today.
The four-day exercise, involving the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, is believed to be taking place about 100 miles south of Yeonpyeong.
While Seoul insists the exercise is both routine and pre-planned, the North's National Peace Committee of Korea described it as "pretext for aggression and ignite a war at any cost". (ANI)