Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, right, meets with South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong, center, and South Korean ambassador to China Noh Young-min at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing Monday, March 12, 2018. (Etienne Oliveau/Pool Photo via AP)

Seoul envoy praises China's role in fostering new nuke talks

March 12, 2018 - 2:51 am

BEIJING (AP) — South Korea's national security director on Monday praised the role of Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration in nudging North Korea toward denuclearization talks, following word of a possible summit between President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un.

Chung Eui-yong briefed top foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi on the recent inter-Korean talks and was to meet with Xi later in the day.

"Our President, Moon Jae-in, and the (South Korean) government believe that various advances toward achieving the goal of peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula were made with active support and contribution from President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government," Chung told Yang.

Yang said China insists on all parties "sticking to solving the issue through dialogue and consultation.

"As long as all parties insist on solving the issue politically and maintain this direction, we can undoubtedly lead the situation on the Korean Peninsula to move forward in the direction in which the global community hopes for," Yang said.

Chung announced last week that Trump had said that he would meet Kim by May "to achieve permanent denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

Chung said Kim told the South Koreans during talks in Pyongyang that he's "committed to denuclearization" and pledged that "North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests."

Suh Hoon, chief of South Korea's spy agency, was also visiting Japan to brief officials there on the progress in talks.

North Korea's foreign trade, more than 90 percent of which passes through China, has taken a major hit since Beijing agreed to increasingly harsh U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Pyongyang into ceasing its nuclear and missile tests and rejoining denuclearization talks.

China's trade crackdown shows how it remains indispensable both in persuading Pyongyang to agree to talks and in fostering and safeguarding a longer term solution, Renmin University foreign affairs expert Cheng Xiaohe wrote in the ruling Communist Party newspaper Global Times on Monday.

"China's faithful implementation helped make the Security Council's resolution effective," Cheng wrote, citing a 52 percent decline in trade with South Korea in January against the year before that required "significant sacrifice" on China's part.

While China supports maintaining sanctions for the time being, it is prepared to restore its trading relationship with the North in the event of a breakthrough in order to "create a favorable external environment for North Korea's sustainable economic development," Cheng wrote.

By way of geography, its growing influence and established interest on the Korean Peninsula, China "was bound to play an important role in promoting denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in particular and shaping the geopolitical order in Northeast Asia in general," Cheng wrote.

The editorial followed remarks by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week that the offer of summit talks was at least a partial result of Beijing's call for a "dual suspension" of North Korean nuclear activities in return for a postponement of U.S.-South Korean war games.

Trump has spoken with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since Thursday's announcement, and said Xi "appreciates that the U.S. is working to solve the problem diplomatically rather than going with the ominous alternative."

Trump also said China "continues to be helpful!" Trump has repeatedly urged China to do more to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear program.

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