Chinese deputy foreign minister Zhang Hijun today met with North Korea's ambassador to communicate Bejing's concerns over the country's plans to launch a rocket-mounted satellite, a move that defies UN resolutions and may jeopardize a recent aid deal struck between the US and the isolationist nation, reported BBC.
China's state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying parties involved need to "stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid escalation of tension that may lead to a more complicated situation."
The public expression of concern, a rare move from China, underscores the unsettling effect North Korea's announcement had on the region.
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Reuters reported that Pyongyang is to launch what is believed to be a ballistic missile between April 12-16, timed to mark the 100th birthday of late former leader Kim Il-sung.
The launch would also come weeks after a global nuclear security summit wraps up in Seoul, according to Reuters, and threatens to come amidst the coutry's parliamentary elections.
South Korea denounced the move as a "clear violation" of UN resolutions that went into effect after North Korea's missile launch in 2009, said BBC, describing Japan as "particularly concerned as North Korea's April 2009 rocket was launched over the country."
China's talks with the North Korean envoy today follow warnings from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who on Friday urged the country to honor its international obligations and cease "highly provocative" behavior.
The move further threatens to scuttle a recent food aid deal agreed upon by the United States and North Korea, said BBC.