The Korea Herald


China, Russia can and must help reduce tensions on Korean Peninsula: State Dept.

By Yonhap

Published : July 26, 2023 - 09:07

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State department spokesperson Vedant Patel is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing at the department in Washington on Tuesday. (US Department of State) State department spokesperson Vedant Patel is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing at the department in Washington on Tuesday. (US Department of State)

WASHINGTON -- China and Russia have a role to play in bringing North Korea to the dialogue table, a state department spokesperson said Tuesday, insisting the two countries are also required to do so as members of the United Nations Security Council.

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the state department, added the United States remains open to engaging with Pyongyang without any preconditions.

"Both Russia and the PRC have a potential role they can play, including through the auspices of the UN Security Council in which they can use their influence over the DPRK to encourage them to refrain from threatening unlawful behavior, behavior that will not just incite tensions in the immediate region but also the region broadly," he told a daily press briefing, referring to China and North Korea by their official names, the People's Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"They also have a role to play in encouraging the DPRK to return to the negotiating table," the state department spokesperson added.

His remark comes after North Korea announced that it has invited Chinese and Russian delegations to events in the country that will mark the 70th anniversary of the armistice agreement signed on July 27, 1953 that brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War.

Many observers believe the proposed visits by the Chinese and Russian delegations will mark the first known foreign trips to the reclusive North since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic while also indicating closer cooperation between the three countries.

China and Russia, both permanent members of the UNSC and close supporters of North Korea, have vetoed about a dozen UNSC attempts to impose sanctions on North Korea for its unprecedented missile provocations since last year.

Pyongyang fired 69 ballistic missiles in 2022, a new record for the number of ballistic missiles fired in a single year, despite multiple Security Council resolutions that prohibit the country from developing or using any ballistic missile technology.

North Korea has also staged 12 intercontinental ballistic missile tests since the start of last year, including its latest ICBM test conducted July 12.

Patel said the US remains committed to a diplomatic path.

"The United States' point of view on this has been quite consistent, which is that we are open to meeting with Pyongyang without preconditions and we continue to have a commitment for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he told the press briefing.

When asked about any communication with North Korea over the fate of a US service member who crossed the inter-Korean border into the North last week, Patel said the department had no new updates to provide.

State Department Press Secretary Matthew Miller said on Monday that Pyongyang has remained silent to all requests, including those from United Nations Command, to verify the safety and whereabouts of the US soldier, identified as Pvt. 2nd Class Travis King. (Yonhap)