Kim Jong-Il, leader of North Korea (file photo) (epa)
June 22, 2006 -- China has issued its strongest statement yet about its concern at the possibility that North Korea might launch a long-range missile.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China is "very concerned" about the situation and he expressed the hope that "all sides will make efforts to help bring peace and stability to the region."
Earlier on June 22, Japan's Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said naval ships and patrol planes had been deployed to monitor developments in North Korea.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang warned that the alleged presence of U.S. spy planes in North Korean air space could trigger a military clash. The state news agency said military provocations by "U.S. warmongers" against North Korea are "reaching their extreme."
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has warned that Washington will not tolerate the threat it believes a North Korean missile launch over Japan would pose.
(Reuters, AP, AFP)