China says will work to ease "worrisome" Korea standoff

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Sunday it agreed with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to make efforts to ease a volatile confrontation between North and South Korea, calling the standoff between its two neighbors “worrisome.

The comments emerged from a meeting in Seoul between a senior Chinese diplomat, State Councillor Dai Bingguo, and President Lee, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

“Stressing that the current situation on the peninsula is worrisome, the two sides agreed that the parties concerned should make joint efforts to engage in serious contacts and dialogue to ease the tensions,” Xinhua reported.

The talks between the two were “in-depth and frank”, said the report.

The confrontation erupted after North Korea shelled a South Korean island this week, prompting calls from Washington and its regional allies for China to use its sway to rein in Pyongyang.

Beijing is the North’s most powerful ally and has repeatedly urged restraint and fresh talks to defuse the tensions.

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani