President Park Geun-hye on Sunday showed a more flexible stance on the resumption of multilateral talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, saying that talks could be pursued with a guarantee of “substantive progress” on Pyongyang’s denuclearization.
Park made the remarks during her hour-long summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, which began its two-day run in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday.
“It is impossible for the North to simultaneously pursue nuclear development and economic reconstruction. While leaving open the door for dialogue, there should definitely be substantive progress on Pyongyang’s denuclearization,” Park was quoted by her office as saying during the meeting with Xi.
“Should there be an assurance that there would be real progress on the denuclearization efforts and that Pyongyang’s development of nuclear capabilities would be blocked, we can explore a variety of ways (to resume the six-party talks).”
Seoul, along with Washington, had maintained that Pyongyang should first show “sincerity” in its denuclearization efforts before the resumption of the six-party talks, which have not been held since December 2008.
But Beijing, the host of the talks, has made a flurry of diplomatic efforts to restart the negotiation process, which involves the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. Last week, it sent its chief nuclear envoy Wu Dawei to Pyongyang to discuss the resumption of the talks.
During the summit, Xi reaffirmed his opposition to Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons and showed his resolve to persuade the reclusive state to cooperate.
|President Park Geun-hye shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after their summit on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, Sunday. (Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)|
“(I) agree with Seoul’s stance. China clearly opposes North Korea’s possession of nuclear arms, and we have been conscientiously carrying out U.N. Security Council resolutions (against Pyongyang),” said Xi.
“There are differences between Beijing and Pyongyang over the nuclear issue, but China is currently trying to persuade the North (to give up its nuclear program) in the Chinese way. We will lead the North in the direction that the international community wants it to go.”
Park also used part of her talks with Xi to explain Seoul’s plan to establish a preparatory committee for reunification and its vision for a unified Korean Peninsula.
“A unified Korea would be nuclear-free, and become a symbol of peace. It would also offer a chance for all regional people to enjoy peace and prosperity by creating a new growth engine in Northeast Asia,” she said.
Xi expressed hopes for an “independent, peaceful” unification of Korea.
“(I) hope that the two Koreas ultimately realize an independent, peaceful unification by carrying out a process of reconciliation and cooperation with a long-term perspective and patience,” he said.
On the issue of the bilateral free trade agreement, Park called for them to work together to conclude the FTA negotiations within this year. In return, Xi expressed hopes that the two sides could accelerate their negotiation of a “high-level, balanced” deal.
During their talks, Xi also expressed gratitude to Park for the planned repatriation of the remains of more than 400 Chinese troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Meanwhile, Park expressed hope that China would not veto the adoption of a final report by the U.N. commission on human rights in North Korea. The report stresses that all kinds of crimes against humanity are rampant in the isolated state.
“Should China not use its right of veto (over the report), I am sure that that would have a greater impact on North Korea’s human rights situation,” she said during an interview with The Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation.
Her remarks were seen as a strong call for Beijing to join the international condemnation of North Korea’s human rights abuses including torture, execution, arbitrary incarceration, deliberate starvation and enslavement.
Last Tuesday, the Chinese government indicated that it might veto the report, arguing that it was against “politicizing” the human rights issue and meddling in nations’ internal affairs on the pretext of human rights violations.
On Monday, Park also held summit talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to exchange views on a nuclear-free world and combating nuclear proliferation. On Tuesday, Park is to attend a three-way summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue.
By Song Sang-ho (email@example.com