TOKYO, Japan (AP) — China faced Japanese pressure Monday to join international efforts to penalize North Korea for its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship two months ago, as the Chinese premier met with Japan’s prime minister in Tokyo.
Meeting after a three-way summit with South Korea’s leader over the weekend, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao were also expected to discuss nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as bilateral issues such as contentious undersea gas exploration projects in the East China Sea and ensuring food safety, Foreign Ministry officials said.
“I would like to make concrete steps in advancing bilateral relations, which are important to both countries,” Hatoyama said as he entered the meeting.
During the weekend summit on South Korea’s Jeju island, Wen didn’t appear ready to support possible action in the U.N. Security Council against North Korea, its longtime ally, but his closing remarks Sunday seemed to signal that Beijing was becoming more engaged in the crisis.
South Korea has taken punitive measures against the North since a team of international investigators said this month that a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine tore apart and sank the warship Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. North Korea vehemently denies attacking the ship and has warned that the South is risking war by attempting to punish it. ♦