PHNOM PENH (Yonhap News) ― Top diplomats of North Korea and China held talks on Wednesday, as South Korean officials suggested Beijing may increase pressure on Pyongyang to curb its belligerent behavior and ease tension on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Cambodia, to be hosted by the 10-member bloc starting Thursday.
Pak did not speak with reporters after concluding the one-hour talks with Yang.
“During the talks, the Chinese side was expected to request North Korea abstain from further provocations and work together to restart the six-party talks,” said a senior Seoul delegate to the ASEAN forum.
|North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun (Yonhap News)|
Pak and Yang were also believed to have discussed a possible visit by North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, to China, the delegate said on the condition of anonymity.
This week’s forum will mark the first time that high-level diplomats from the two Koreas could have face-to-face meetings on the sidelines since the December death of North Korea’s long-time ruler, Kim Jong-il. Kim’s third son, Kim Jong-un, took the helm of North Korea, marking the second dynastic succession in Pyongyang.
In Phnom Penh, Pak plans to hold a series of bilateral talks with Asian counterparts, in a hectic round of diplomacy believed to be aimed at winning economic assistance, the Seoul delegate said.
Besides China, Pak will hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia, he said.
“Pak’s attendance at the ARF marks his first appearance at an international conference since the completion of the power transition to Kim Jong-un,” the delegate said.
“Such moves could bolster economic cooperation with ASEAN members,” the delegate said.
On Tuesday, foreign ministers of the 10-member ASEAN countries plus South Korea, China and Japan held talks and urged North Korea to refrain from any further provocation and reduce tension.
In a joint statement, the ministers urged North Korea “not to conduct any further provocation and to comply with its obligations under the relevant UNSC resolutions.”
Diplomatic efforts to resume the six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have been frozen since April, when North Korea defiantly launched a long-range rocket that failed moments after lift-off.
Seoul diplomats have said South Korea has no plans to hold a bilateral meeting with North Korea during the ARF, but left the door open for inter-Korean contact organized by an “unofficial channel.”
Concerns persist that North Korea may soon conduct a third nuclear test to make up for its failed launch. The North’s previous two rocket launches in 2006 and 2009 were followed by nuclear tests. (Yonhap News)