Diplomacy finally showed signs of life on the Korean peninsula Thursday, two weeks after North Korea shelled its neighbor. China got off the sidelines and sent a top envoy to meet with Kim Jong Il, and an American governor whose visits have led to breakthroughs in the past announced a new trip.
As both Koreas continued to carry out military maneuvers, regional powers balanced shows of support for their allies with attempts to negotiate a detente to avert a further escalation of tensions. Four South Koreans died in the Nov. 23 attack on Yeonpyeong Island, the first to target a civilian area since the Korean War.
China fought on North Korea’s side during the Korean War, and has remained the nation’s only major ally as well as its main supplier of economic aid and diplomatic support.
China’s move was met by another promising one from the U.S., which has spent the past two weeks denouncing the shelling, vowing not to reward the North for bad behavior and reiterating its commitment to ally South Korea. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced that he would travel to North Korea next week.