South Korea and China agreed Friday to strengthen cooperation in their efforts to denuclearize North Korea, affirming once again their commitment to resolving the issue, the foreign ministry here said.
The two sides reached the agreement during talks in Seoul between South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Kyung-soo and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, a foreign ministry official said.
The meeting followed Liu’s talks with top North Korean diplomats in Pyongyang earlier this week. Liu flew into Seoul late Thursday right after a four-day trip to Pyongyang, in a rare back-to-back visit by a ranking Chinese official to both Koreas.
“South Korea and China confirmed again their firm, shared recognition of the goal of not allowing and getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program while also agreeing to further step up collaboration to make substantial progress on the North Korean nuclear issue,” the ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The Chinese vice minister also briefed his South Korean counterpart on details of his latest visit to Pyongyang, the official said. Liu stressed in his meeting with North Korean officials that Pyongyang needs to take concrete action toward denuclearization before the long-stalled six-party talks can resume, according to the ministry official.
China has been leading efforts to reopen the six-party disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. Seoul and Washington have expressed reservations about a resumption, saying Pyongyang should first demonstrate its commitment to giving up its nuclear weapons through action.
In the Friday meeting, the South also called on China to take a “constructive role” in bolstering peace on the Korean Peninsula and inducing North Korea to change its attitude, the official said.
The Chinese diplomat’s back-to-back visits to Pyongyang and Seoul came amid some signs of inter-Korean rapprochement and reflect China’s growing role in relations between the two countries. (Yonhap)