China called for emergency talks on resolving a crisis on the Korean peninsula. Seoul and Tokyo said they would study the proposal as the U.S. and South Korean militaries started a massive drill.

Beijing’s move to bring the two Koreas to the negotiating table comes after global pressure on China to take a more responsible role in the standoff and try to rein in ally Pyongyang.

China made clear that the talks would not amount to a resumption of six-party disarmament discussions, which North Korea walked out of two years ago and declared dead. South Korea said it would carefully consider China’s suggestion.

China has not taken sides in the conflict and declined to blame North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March.

Critics in Washington and other capitals say China’s approach amounts to coddling a dangerous, nuclear-armed state.

Beijing has longstanding bonds with Pyongyang and has sought to shield its small, poor neighbor from a backlash that China fears could draw an even more ferocious reaction from North Korea and dangerously destabilize the region.