China raps N. Korea over rocket launch

BEIJING: China on Wednesday rapped North Korea over its long-range rocket launch, demanding North Korea comply with UN resolutions against using ballistic missiles, the official news agency Xinhua said.

"Pyongyang should... abide by relevant UN Security Council resolutions... which demands the DPRK not to conduct 'any launch using ballistic missile technology' and urges it to 'suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme'," Xinhua said in a commentary.

China, North Korea's sole major ally and its biggest trading partner and aid provider, is seen as one of the few nations with any influence over the regime in Pyongyang and had previously expressed concerns over the launch.

Over the past decade, Beijing has repeatedly called for calm as North Korea tested nuclear weapons and carried out ballistic missile tests, despite wide condemnation from the international community, including the United States.

Following Wednesday's launch, Xinhua again urged all sides to exercise restraint.

"All parties concerned should stay cool-headed and refrain from stoking the flames so as to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control," Xinhua said.

"In place of bellicose rhetoric and gestures, they need to take concrete actions to foster a conducive milieu for dialogue and return to the negotiating table as soon as possible."

Xinhua also called for the resumption of long-stalled six-party talks over the North's nuclear programme, which are chaired by China and take in both Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.

"For years, the situation on the peninsula seems to have entered a reinforcing loop of misunderstanding, mistrust and animosity. The only viable way begins with trust-building," the agency added.

However, it said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- the North's official name -- had "the right to conduct peaceful exploration of the outer space".

North Korea insisted the mission was not a banned intercontinental missile test but was designed to place a scientific satellite in orbit, and said it had achieved all its objectives.

"In international relations, as in life, the best way to make an enemy of a country is to treat it like one," Xinhua said. "This rule of thumb is also true with making friends."

- AFP/ck

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