UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council failed Sunday to agree a statement on the Korean military crisis and Russia warned that the international community was now left without “a game plan” to counter escalating tensions.
China rejected demands by Western nations that North Korea be publicly condemned for its November 23 attack on Yeonpyeong island which killed four South Koreans, diplomats said.
About eight hours of formal talks by the 15 nation council and private discussions, which brought in the North and South Korean ambassadors, ended without accord.
“We were not successful in bridging” differences between the parties, Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters.
He added that unofficial talks would continue, but Susan Rice, the US ambassador and Security Council president for December, said it was “safe to predict that the gaps that remain are unlikely to be bridged.”
She added that “the majority of council members made clear their view that it was important to condemn” the November 23 artillery attack and the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
Rice called the incidents “unprovoked aggression” by North Korea on the South.
However China even rejected a version of Russia's statement which did not mention North Korea or the Yeonpyeong name in a proposed paragraph on the November 23 attack, diplomats said.
Britain produced a rival draft statement which said the council “condemns the attack launched by the DPRK on the ROK on November 23.” The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of the North and the Republic of Korea is the South.
Churkin said Russia demanded the meeting on Saturday because of its “grave concern” about tensions between North and South Korea, a region right on Russia's doorstep.
The South has vowed to go ahead with a live firing drill near Yeonpyeong. The North has threatened to retaliate.
Russia had wanted a call of “maximum restraint” to be sent to the two Koreas and for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send a special envoy to negotiate with the rival states.
Churkin said the idea of a UN envoy had received “strong support” in the talks.
“I hope that this idea can still be pursued because now we have a situation with very serious political tension and no game plan on the diplomatic side,” said Churkin.
Six nation talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons have come to a standstill “and there is no other diplomatic activity, so we believe that there must be an initiative and this initiative of the secretary general appointing an envoy might be something which will set a political process in track,” Churkin said.
The foreign ministers of Russia and China have called on South Korea not to stage its military drills and this was reaffirmed by Churkin.
“We know that it is better to refrain from doing this exercise at this time,” he said.
South Korea has US backing however and Rice countered that it had a legitimate right to stage the exercises.
Channel News Asia