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(7th LD) Park, Xi warn N. Korea against missile, nuke test

All Headlines 23:10 September 02, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by S. Korean official; CHANGES headline)
By Kim Kwang-tae

BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, warned North Korea on Wednesday against conducting a missile or nuclear test as they renewed calls for the resumption of long-stalled talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

The warning came amid speculation that North Korea may stage a provocation in October to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party.

North Korea has vowed to continue to launch satellites for what it claims is science and economic development, calling it a sovereign right. Still, South Korea and the United States view a satellite launch as a cover for testing the North's ballistic missile technology.

Park "expressed concern" on North Korea's possible missile or nuclear test during her summit with Xi, Ju Chul-ki, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, told reporters. Park and Xi held consultations on the issue, Ju said, without elaborating.

Park and Xi also stressed that a landmark 2005 nuclear deal on North Korea and U.N. resolutions on North Korea should be faithfully implemented, Cheong Wa Dae said of their summit.

"In connection with this, the two sides voiced opposition to any act that could escalate tensions," the presidential office said, without elaborating.

North Korea agreed to scrap its nuclear programs in exchange for diplomatic concessions and economic aid under the 2005 deal with the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

Still, the North later backtracked from its commitment and conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, drawing international condemnation and U.N. sanctions.

Park and Xi "shared the view that meaningful six-way talks should be quickly resumed" as they took note of a recent nuclear deal reached between the United States, five world powers and Iran.

The deal is designed to curb Iran's nuclear capabilities in return for lifting sanctions.

North Korea has already said it is not interested in Iran-style nuclear talks, claiming that Pyongyang is a nuclear weapons state and has interests as a nuclear weapons state.

The nuclear talks were last held in Beijing in late 2008 and they also involve China, Japan and Russia.

North Korea has expressed its desire to return to the talks without any preconditions.

South Korea and the U.S. have said that Pyongyang must first show its sincerity toward denuclearization before such talks can resume.

Park's summit with Xi -- the sixth such meeting between the two leaders since Park took office in early 2013 -- came a day before a high-profile ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of China's victory over Japan in World War II.

Xi expressed his gratitude to Park for visiting China for the celebrations at a time when many Western leaders decided to skip the military parade that could showcase the growing military prowess of an assertive China.

Park and Xi also agreed to hold a trilateral summit with Japan in Seoul in either late October or early November, in a sign of improving ties among the three neighbors. China was represented by its prime minister in previous trilateral summit.

A trilateral summit has not been held since May 2012 due to tensions mainly over history and territorial issues stemming from Japan's aggressions against its neighbors in the early 20th century.

Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-45 and controlled much of China in the early part of the 20th century.

Separately, Park expressed gratitude to Xi for the constructive role Beijing has played in defusing heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

It was not immediately clear how China helped ease tensions sparked by a land mine attack last month blamed on North Korea.

The two Koreas produced a deal last week, under which North Korea expressed regret over the attack that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

In return, South Korea ended anti-Pyongyang broadcasts along the heavily fortified border seen by North Korea as an insult to the supreme dignity of its leader, Kim Jong-un.

But on Wednesday, North Korea said that its expression of "regret" does not equal an "apology" for the land mine incident, saying that South Korea is interpreting the meaning of the word to its own advantage.

Park and Xi also held an in-depth discussion on the unification of South Korea and North Korea, Ju said, without elaborating. The two Koreas are still technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.


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