In an even-handed reaction to the artillery exchanges between South and North Korea, India on Wednesday urged both sides to maintain peace and stability in the region, and stressed the need to respect international obligations.

Also calling for a return to negotiations, the Foreign Office expressed sympathies at the loss of lives and injuries caused to the civilian population of Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea.

The Indian call for a return to negotiations comes against the backdrop of the United States deciding to send an aircraft carrier and several accompanying ships after an emergency meeting at the White House.

New Delhi's reaction this time was different from its stance when a South Korean frigate sank on March 26. Two months after the incident and basing its response on a report by South Korea's ‘Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group,' the Foreign Office had “condemned” the sinking of the military frigate Cheonan, and commended Seoul for handling the issue with restraint.

While 56 sailors were rescued, 46 were reportedly killed after the warship sank near the maritime boundary of the two Koreas. The probe report had alleged that the ship was sunk by a torpedo fired by a North Korean warship. North Korea had called the report a “fabrication.”

A few days back, India had abstained from voting on a resolution condemning North Korea at a United Nations committee dealing with human rights.

Keywords: Korean row

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