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Terrorism & Security

Obama urges China to help diffuse North Korea tension

In a phone call Monday, President Obama asked Chinese President Hu Jintao to put pressure on North Korea, even as US held military drills with South Korea.

By Correspondent / December 6, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with China's President Hu Jintao as part of the G20 Summit in Seoul in this November 11 file photo.

Jim Young/Reuters/File

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Amid heightened tensions, President Obama urged Chinese President Hu Jintao Monday to help restrain North Korea as South Korea began live-fire military drills. The North shelled a South Korean island two weeks ago, killing four.

The conversation comes as the US has increased diplomatic pressure on China to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and stop its provocative behavior toward South Korea. The US held joint military drills with the South last week, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to meet with Japanese and South Korean officials today to discuss the situation.

In a phone call placed overnight US time, Obama “urged China to work with us and others to send a clear message to North Korea that its provocations are unacceptable,” according to the White House. He condemned North Korea’s attack on Yeonpyeong and its uranium enrichment program.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reports that President Hu “called for a calm and rational response from all sides” to prevent the situation from escalating, and said he is “greatly concerned” about the crisis. "To relax tension, not aggravate it, to seek dialogue, not confrontation, and to pursue peace, not war, this is the strong aspiration and call of the peoples in both sides of the Korean Peninsula and of the international community," he said according to Xinhua.

The Wall Street Journal called the telephone call the first direct communication between Obama and Hu since both the shelling of Yeonpyeong and since the North revealed new progress in a uranium-enrichment program.

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