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China watches North Korean launch plans

Published By United Press International
BEIJING, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- With North Korea extending a launch window, all parties involved need to work to ensure peace endures in the region, a Chinese official said Monday.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, sad Beijing has taken note of a North Korean announcement that it was extending a launch window to Dec. 29 for its latest efforts to use a long-range rocket to orbit a satellite.

"The Chinese side holds a consistent stance on the issue," he was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying. "We hope all sides concerned will make joint efforts to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as in the region."

North Korean technicians reported a "technical deficiency" on an engine module for a rocket set for a launch this month, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports. Fuel injections for the rocket were expected last week, suggesting a launch was imminent.

An April attempt by North Korea to send a satellite into orbit failed. That effort was in violation of early pledges to halt military and nuclear testing in exchange for food assistance from the United States.

The latest launch window was Monday through Dec. 22. Dec. 17 is the first anniversary of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Launch attempts in 2006 and 2009 coincided with North Korea nuclear tests.
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