The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has said that "force and military power will not resolve the problems" in a statement expressing concern over tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The crisis erupted on Tuesday, 23 November 2010, when cross-border artillery fire killed several people on the South Korean-controlled Yeonpyeong Island. Pyongyang accused South Korea of firing first. The Southern military said it had conducted exercises but shelling was directed away from the North.
"In the interests of people in both countries and their neighbours in Northeast Asia, the World Council of Churches urges the authorities in both North and South Korea to refrain from actions that exacerbate the tensions," Tveit said, calling for a "return to peace negotiations that will lead to peaceful co-existence and mutual respect".
He added that the governments of the two states should "engage in a new process of confidence-building measures at the earliest possible date".
The WCC Assembly, the council's highest governing body, is scheduled to meet in Busan, South Korea in October 2013.