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World News

Highlights of Hu-Obama telephone conversation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Following are highlights of a telephone conversation between Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama called Hu nearly two weeks after a North Korean attack on South Korea.

The Hu comments were carried by Xinhua news agency and those by Obama by the White House.

HU JINTAO:

“Hu Jintao stressed that as a close neighbor of the Korean peninsula, China pays great attention to the situation there. The recent exchange of fire between North and South Korea caused damage and loss of life, including of civilians.

“China expresses deep regret about that, and is extremely worried about the current situation. The Korean peninsula has a very fragile security situation. Especially with the present situation, if not dealt with properly, tensions could well rise on the Korean peninsula or spin out of control, which would not be in anyone’s interest, and is exactly what we don’t want to see.

“The most pressing task at present is to calmly deal with the situation, and prevent it from becoming worse. China has always believed that dialogue and negotiations are the only right way to resolve North Korean nuclear-related issues and to realize long lasting peace on the Peninsula and North East Asia.”

“The developing situation further shows the importance and urgency of restarting Six-party talks.”

“Hu Jintao stressed, we need an easing (of tensions), not a ratcheting up; dialogue, not confrontation; peace, not war. This is the ardent wish and call of the people on both the northern and southern parts of the Korean peninsula, and the international community.

“China has already made an urgent proposal to hold a heads of delegation meeting for the countries in the six-party talks. China is willing to keep in close contact and coordinate with the United States on the situation on the Korean peninsula, and to work together to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia.”

BARACK OBAMA:

“The two Presidents discussed our common interest in peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the priority of ensuring the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“They agreed on the importance of the United States and China working together toward these shared goals. The President emphasized the need for North Korea to halt its provocative behavior and to meet its international obligations, including its commitments in the 2005 Six Party Joint Declaration.

“The President condemned the North Korean shelling of a South Korean island on November 23 and its pursuit of a uranium enrichment program in defiance of its obligations. He urged China to work with us and others to send a clear message to North Korea that its provocations are unacceptable.

“The President also highlighted the American commitment to the security of our allies in the region.”

Reporting by Beijing and Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson

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