Foreign and Military Affairs

China, DPRK to enhance security co-op

Updated: 2011-02-16 07:24

By Ma Liyao (China Daily)

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 China, DPRK to enhance security co-op

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s top leader Kim Jong-il (center right) receives gifts from visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu (center left) in Pyongyang on Monday, as Kim Jong-un (right) looks on. KCNA VIA KNS / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING - China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) vowed to maintain close ties and enhance cooperation on regional security amid simmering tensions on the Korean Peninsula, where a joint military drill will be held soon by the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States.

Kim Jong-il, the top leader of the DPRK, called for strengthened cooperation between the two countries in fields such as economy and security, the DPRK's Korean Central News Agency reported.

The remarks were made when Kim met visiting Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu in Pyongyang on Monday.

He also expressed satisfaction over the continuous and smooth development of DPRK-China relations in various fields.

Meng said that coordination between the two countries has not only promoted their respective development, but also contributed greatly to regional peace and stability.

Meng arrived in Pyongyang on Sunday at the invitation of DPRK Minister of People's Security Ju Sang-song.

On Tuesday, the ROK and the US officially announced plans for another joint exercise following their high-profile demonstration of military power last year in the region.

The annual military exercise scheduled from Feb 28 to March 10 aim at enhancing the defense posture against "any potential contingency that could arise" on the Korean Peninsula, said the Combined Forces Command (CFC) in Seoul.

CFC Commander General Walter Sharp said in the statement that the exercise will deal with a number of scenarios through which they will conduct crisis management.

The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercise will also involve field training centering on ground, air, naval, expeditionary and special operation forces, the command said.

These include localized provocations, tracing weapons of mass destruction, a sudden change in the DPRK and an exodus of refugees, involving computer simulations.

Some 12,800 US troops and 200,000 ROK troops will be mobilized for the 11-day drills, along with a US aircraft carrier, according to local reports.

Liu Jiangyong, an expert on East Asia studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the "contingency", judging by the drill plan, most likely refers to the supposed "breakdown" of the DPRK government, or an armed attack by the DPRK on the ROK, both of which are "not possible".

"The exercise is a continuation of the ROK's intensive drills in areas around the DPRK last year, aiming to exert military pressure on it, which apparently did not have a good outcome," Liu said.

Military tensions on the peninsula have been growing ever since the sinking of an ROK warship in March that Seoul blamed on Pyongyang despite the latter's repeated denials.

The situation worsened after an exchange of fire between the DPRK and the ROK occurred last November near their disputed maritime border.

The risk of a full-scale conflict declined due to the DPRK's restraint and other countries' mediation, including China.

Talks between the DPRK and the ROK, the first attempt at direct dialogue aiming to ease the tension after the incidents, broke down last week.

"No single talks can solve the complicated situation on the Korean Peninsula, but contact is still a good way to ease the tension. And I don't think the US and ROK will drop the possibility of dialogue, even with their upcoming drill," Liu noted.

The CFC said it had informed the DPRK of the upcoming drill, which it said would be "entirely defensive in nature", while the DPRK said the drill was a "challenge" to regional peace and stability.

Beijing had criticized Washington for sending aircraft carriers to the region several times last year, saying it was a threat to regional peace and stability.

It has not responded to the upcoming exercises yet.

Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/16/2011 page11)


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