UNSC to meet over Korea tensions

Bad weather delayed Seoul's planned firing drill at a disputed border that has enraged Pyongyang.

UNSC to meet over Korea tensions

The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency session on Sunday in bid to cool tensions on the Korean peninsula, as bad weather delayed Seoul's planned firing drill at a disputed border that has enraged Pyongyang.

The stand-off between the two Koreas has raised international concerns that their spat could escalate and quickly spiral out control, with both sides saying they will use military means to defend what they say is their territory off the west coast.

China and Russia have called on both Koreas to avoid actions that could inflame tensions on the divided peninsula. But Washington has backed Seoul's push to go ahead with the planned live-fire drill on Yeonpyeong island, where four South Koreans were killed in an artillery attack last month.

The drill, within eyesight of the North Korean mainland, is scheduled to take place sometime before Tuesday, but bad weather has so far prevented it from taking place.

Underlining international concerns, the Security Council will seek a way out of the crisis -- described as "extremely precarious" and a "tinderbox" by U.S. and Chinese officials --at an emergency session in New York on Sunday at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT).

"We believe that the Security Council must send a restraining signal to the Republic of Korea and DPRK (North) and help launch diplomatic activity with a view to resolving all issues of dispute between the two Korean sides by political and diplomatic means," Russia's envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said.

The meeting may produce some kind of statement to help ease tensions.

North Korea has called the artillery fire drill by the South a suicidal war move that would trigger a full-out conflict on peninsula and said it would strike back in self-defence.

The South has said if was attacked in the same manner as last month, it would hit back hard with air power and bombs.

Weather conditions worsened on the normally sleepy island, which has been largely deserted by residents after the Nov. 23 attack.

The South Korean government remained insistent to carry out the exercise despite calls to reconsider.

"There is no plan to cancel the exercise. The factor we're looking at is the weather condition," a Defence Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

South Korean marines plan to test artillery firing from the island targeting its territorial waters to its southwest, the same type of exercise that North Korea last month called an attack and prompted its shelling of the island.

Concern mounted on the island among the few residents who remained, and anticipation was growing that the drill would take place on Monday.


Agencies

Last Mod: 19 Aralık 2010, 18:33
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