China backs nuclear-free Korean Peninsula

Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM

BEIJING, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The Chinese government is interested in pursuing a peaceful Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, a foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing was calling on all parties to avoid taking action that could lead to a further escalation of hostilities in the region.

"It is in the common interests of all parties concerned to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve the denuclearization of the peninsula," he was quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency as saying.

Hong said negotiations involving South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan, stalled since 2009, were the best way to bring about a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

The North Korean government has issued a statement suggesting it was preparing a third nuclear test.

"We will not hide the fact that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets will be launched and a nuclear test of a higher level will be carried out during the next phase of the anti-U.S. struggle," a statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency read.

North Korea, after a failed attempt in April, in December launched a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit. Launches in 2006 and 2009 coincided with the testing of nuclear devices.

The latest statement from Pyongyang follows a decision by the U.N. Security Council to censure North Korea for the December launch.

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