China, France "seriously concerned" about N.Korea

(Reuters) - China and France jointly expressed "serious concern" on Thursday over the North Korean nuclear test crisis, saying the row should be resolved through urgent diplomacy.

In a joint declaration after talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao and visiting French President Jacques Chirac, the two urged North Korea to return to six-party disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, the United States and host China, reports Trend.

China and France "support Security Council resolution 1718 and urge the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) to scrupulously abide by its commitments on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and desire that all parties undertake to seek a peaceful resolution of the problem through dialogue and negotiation," the two sides said.

North Korea's nuclear test on October 9 drew regional condemnation and U.N. sanctions under resolution 1718, backed by China, the reclusive state's long-time supporter.

But Beijing fears sanctions that squeeze impoverished North Korea tightly could tear apart relations and risk the North's collapse, sending waves of refugees into China and threatening regional turmoil. It has called again and again for limited pressure and more diplomacy.

China and France also agreed to cooperate closely on Iran, which they urged to respect a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on it to suspend uranium enrichment.

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