UN to meet as South Korea plans military drills

A US governor visiting North Korea has called for it to show maximum restraint to planned South Korean military drills and hopes the UN Security Council will deliver the same message in its emergency meeting, his office said.

A frequent unofficial envoy to the reclusive country, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has held three important meetings with top leaders in North Korea's foreign ministry and military during his four-day visit.



"I hope that the UN Security Council will pass a strong resolution calling for self-restraint from all sides in order to seek peaceful means to resolve this dispute," Richardson said in a statement released by his US office late Saturday. "A UN resolution could provide cover for all sides that prevents aggressive military action."



South Korea's military plans to conduct one-day, live-fire drills by Tuesday on the same front-line island the North shelled last month as the South conducted a similar exercise. The North warned the drills would cause it to strike back harder than it did last month, when four people were killed on Yeonpyeong Island.



The high tensions prompted the UN Security Council on Saturday to schedule an emergency meeting at Russia's request.



The military's position to hold the drills remains unchanged, a Defense Ministry official said, indicating the drills could take place either Monday or Tuesday due to bad weather Sunday. He asked not to be identified, citing the issue's sensitivity.



The North's Foreign Ministry said Saturday that South Korea would face an unspecified "catastrophe" if the drills take place, in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The North also said it would strike harder than before.



South Korea says the drills are routine, defensive in nature and should not be considered threatening. The US supports that and says any country has a right to train for self-defense, but Russia and China, fellow permanent members of the UN Security Council, have expressed concern.



Russia's Foreign Ministry has urged South Korea to cancel to avoid escalating tensions.



The Security Council scheduled emergency closed-door consultations on North Korea for 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) Sunday at Russia's request, said Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the US Mission to the United Nations. The United States holds the council's rotating presidency this month.



Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the Russian government believes the Security Council must send "a restraining signal" to North Korea and help launch diplomatic actions to resolve all disputes between North Korea and South Korea.



China, the North's key ally, has said it is "unambiguously opposed" to any acts that could worsen already-high tensions on the Korean peninsula.



Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, called for restraint from all parties concerned to avoid escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.



During telephone talks with Lavrov on Saturday night, Yang, who is accompanying Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on a visit to Pakistan, said the situation on the peninsula has recently become tense and may further deteriorate, Xinhua reported.



Marines carrying rifles conducted routine patrols Sunday. About 240 residents, officials and journalists remain on Yeonpyeong, said Lim Byung-chan, an official from Ongjin County, which governs the island. He said there is no immediate plan to order a mandatory evacuation to the mainland.



Amid security jitters, nearly 800 out of 1,300 civilians living on the island moved to unsold apartments in Gimpo, west of Seoul, on Sunday, according to Ongjin County officials.



Several bloody naval skirmishes occurred along the western sea border in recent years, but last month's assault was the first by the North to target a civilian area since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North does not recognize the UN-drawn sea border in the area.



The North claims South Korea fired artillery toward its territorial waters before it unleashed shells on the island on Nov. 23, while the South says it launched shells southward, not toward North Korea, as part of routine exercises.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future