China Works To Ease North-South Korea Tension

(BBC)

Officials said their priority was to avoid a recurrence of Tuesday's violence, which saw North Korea fire artillery shells at a southern island.

The South responded with its own fire, and announced joint military exercises with US forces would begin on Sunday.

Pyongyang said the drills were pushing the region to ""the brink of war"".

The US and other powers have repeatedly urged Beijing - Pyongyang's only ally - to use its influence to defuse the crisis.

On Friday, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met the North's ambassador in person, and spoke on the phone to his US and South Korean counterparts, according to a statement carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

""The top priority now is to keep the situation under control and to ensure such events do not happen again,"" the statement said.

No details of the conversations were released, and the US state department has not yet commented.

At least four South Koreans died on Tuesday when the North shelled the Southern island of Yeonpyeong.
ALJAZEERA