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(2nd LD) China envoy urges Japan to show sincerity for high-level talks

All Headlines 17:41 September 17, 2014

(ATTN: ADDS remarks by China's foreign ministry spokesman, details in paras 18-20; AMENDS dateline)
By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL/BEIJING, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- China's top envoy to South Korea called on Japan on Wednesday to be sincere in resolving history issues if it wants to resume high-level dialogue with Beijing and Seoul.

Japan's relations with China and South Korea have been strained due to Tokyo's move to deny its wartime atrocities such as its sexual enslavement of Korean and Chinese women during World War II.

Speaking at a forum, Qiu Guohong, China's ambassador to Seoul, urged Japan to "sincerely express its commitment to addressing the history issues and take action," if Tokyo wants to see the resumption of high-level talks with Beijing and Seoul, including a summit.

"Neither China nor South Korea has closed the door for dialogue. It is Japan that should open the door," Qiu said. "There is a saying that one who has tied a knot must untie it. Japan should show its sincerity (in resolving the history issues)."

His remarks come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made nationalistic remarks and behaviors, angering Seoul and Beijing.

The three countries held a deputy foreign ministers' meeting last week in Seoul to revive the momentum for trilateral cooperation that has been somewhat stagnant due to Japan's stance over history issues.

The three countries largely agreed to explore the possibility of holding a foreign ministers' meeting within this year. Their top diplomats' meeting and a trilateral summit have not been held since 2012.

"China sees its relations with Japan important, hoping to make the relationship mutually beneficial," Qiu said. "We are waiting for Japan to show its sincere actions."

Asked about whether foreign ministers from the three nations could have talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Qiu said that it is difficult to predict for now, hinting that a possible meeting will depend on Japan.

In regard to a potential summit between China and Japan on the sidelines of November's APEC summit in Beijing, he said that although all possibilities are open, Japan's genuine attitude toward history is important as well.

Touching on North Korea, he called for the early resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program.

He called the six-party talks a good mechanism for resolving the North's nuke issues. The six-party forum involves the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

"(China) hopes that North Korea will swiftly return to the international community. That's also what the international community wants to see," the ambassador noted.

He also added that guaranteeing security for North Korea is one of the preconditions for resolving Pyongyang's nuke issues.

In regard to speculation that China's relations with North Korea have been strained, Qiu said that the two countries have maintained a normal relationship.

"I think that a visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to China is likely to be made down the road."

He also added that it is "very normal" to discuss North Korea's human rights at the United Nations' meeting.

China's foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, was asked during a regular press briefing on Wednesday about the remarks by Qiu that the North's young leader could visit China sometime in the future, but replied, "I have no relevant information to give you on a visit."

Instead, Hong repeated China's long-standing stance that North Korea and China are "friendly neighbors and we maintain friendly exchanges at all levels."

Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a two-day visit to South Korea in July, breaking a long-standing tradition by Chinese heads of state of visiting North Korea before Seoul.

The U.S., South Korea and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights have been organizing the meeting to bring together foreign ministers of U.N. member countries slated for next week to deal with the North's appalling human rights record.

"Nothing has been decided," Qiu said, when asked whether Beijing will join the expected U.N. meeting on North Korea's human rights.


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