China's state news agency Sunday urged world leaders not to stray off topic by addressing the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at a summit in Seoul this week on combating nuclear terrorism.
Protesters shout anti-war slogans in downtown Seoul on March 25, 2012 during a rally on the eve of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. (AFP Photo)
Republic of Korea (RoK) will host leaders and senior officials from 53 nations, including US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, for the two-day summit starting Monday.
DPRK is not on the formal agenda, but the communist state's plan to launch a rocket next month has overshadowed the run-up to the meeting.
"It is no surprise that the subject has stolen some of the limelight," China's Xinhua news agency said in a commentary. "However, the Seoul summit... is not an appropriate platform to address the question."
China is a vital diplomatic ally for DPRK, which depends on its Asian neighbour for food and fuel. Beijing on Friday urged restraint ahead of the mid-April launch of the DPRK rocket.
Nuclear-armed DPRK says the rocket will merely put a peaceful satellite into orbit. The United States and others suspect the launch will test a long-range missile which could one day deliver an atomic warhead.
The Xinhua commentary said that stalled six-party talks on DPRK nuclear drive were the appropriate forum for addressing tensions on the Korean peninsula.
China has acted as host for the stop-start talks, which also group the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.
This week's Seoul summit will focus on minimising the threat of nuclear-armed terrorism, and securing or destroying the world's supplies of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium.
"The upcoming summit offers an opportunity to make the world safer, and thus should not be distracted by off-agenda issues," Xinhua said.
DPRK is not part of the summit.
But leaders of the other five nations involved in the six-party talks will all be present, offering an opportunity for consultations. President Hu is due to meet Obama for bilateral talks in Seoul on Monday.