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China holds 'frank' talks with North Korea after satellite announcement

By Jaime A. FlorCruz, CNN
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Tue March 20, 2012
South Koreans shout during a rally denouncing the North's announcement of a planned satellite launch, in Seoul on March 20.
South Koreans shout during a rally denouncing the North's announcement of a planned satellite launch, in Seoul on March 20.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • North Korea's announcement of a satellite launch has provoked alarm
  • China says it held 'frank' talks with Pyongyang on the situation in the region
  • Japan says it is considering destroying the launch rocket, if it poses a risk

Beijing (CNN) -- China says it has had "a frank, in-depth talk" with North Korea about the situation on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang's announcement of a planned satellite launch provoked an international outcry.

Wu Dawei, China's special representative for the Korean Peninsula, met with Ri Yong Ho, a senior North Korean nuclear negotiator, in Beijing on Monday.

Wu told the Chinese broadcaster CCTV that he and Ri had exchanged "opinions on the topic of preserving the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," as well as on Pyongyang's planned satellite launch.

China appears to be putting pressure on North Korea over the plan to fire off a long-range rocket that the North says will carry the satellite into orbit.

South Korea has called the announcement a "grave provocation" that contravenes U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea plans missile launch

And the Japanese defense minister, Naoki Tanaka, said Monday that he would consider ordering the destruction of the projectile if it presented a risk to Japan.

Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun expressed "concern" when he met North Korean ambassador Ji Jae Ryong on Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported over the weekend.

"We sincerely hope parties concerned stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid escalation of tension that may lead to a more complicated situation," Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying.

China rarely puts public pressure on its northern neighbor, which relies on Beijing's political, economic and diplomatic support.

North Korea announced Friday that it plans to launch a satellite into space next month to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, grandfather of Pyongyang's new leader Kim Jong-un.

The United States says the rocket launch would be a "deal-breaker" for a recent aid agreement between the United States and North Korea.

In closed-door meetings partly brokered by China, North Korea last month agreed to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches in exchange for resumption of U.S. food aid.

The announced missile launch also could derail recent efforts to reconvene the multilateral talks, known as six-party talks, on denuclearizing North Korea.

The launch is expected to take place April 12 to 16. North Korea says it plans to invite experts and the media to observe the launch.

Pyongyang has also invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to return, nearly three years after it kicked U.N. nuclear inspectors out of the country, the IAEA said Monday.

CNN's Junko Ogura and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

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