Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday called for efforts to gradually ease tensions in the region over the March sinking of a South Korean warship.

“The pressing task for the moment is to properly handle the serious impact caused by the Cheonan incident, defuse tensions in the region, and most importantly of all, avoid possible conflicts,” said Mr. Wen. Mr. Wen was speaking at a joint press conference following a two-day summit meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the South Korean resort island.

Mr. Wen urged the Northeast Asian nations to help maintain regional peace and stability. “We must spare no effort to promote peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Short of this precondition, development will be out of the question, and the hard-won achievements will be lost again,” he stressed.

“China will continue to enhance communication with relevant parties [over the Cheonan incident] in order to steer the situation toward a direction which is conducive to peace and stability in Northeast Asia. This is in our best common and long-term interests,” said Mr. Wen.

As the region was facing many new challenges, China, Japan and South Korea should strengthen coordination, appropriately deal with sensitive issues and increase mutual political trust, said Mr. Wen.

On March 26, the South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, with 104 crew members on board, sank off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula, killing 46 sailors.

On May 20, the South Korean government released the results of a multinational investigation, which concluded that the Cheonan was torpedoed by a submarine of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The DPRK has vehemently rejected the charge and warned that any retaliation would lead to an “all-out” war.

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