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(2nd LD) China, N. Korea's top diplomats hold talks during ASEAN meetings

All News 17:42 July 25, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with updated info and remarks)
By Koh Byung-joon

VIENTIANE, July 25 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats from China and North Korea held talks on Monday in Laos, promising to work together to improve bilateral ties.

The meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho was held at the National Convention Center in the Laotian capital on the sidelines of the regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), known as ARF. It lasted about one hour.

"We intend to work together for the sake of advancing China-North Korea relations," Wang Yi said in his opening remarks, which was unusually disclosed to South Korean reporters. "We plan to exchange our views on issues of mutual concern, including ties between the two countries."

In response, Ri expressed his hope for better ties with Beijing.

After the meeting, an official who identified himself as a spokesperson for the North said that both discussed "how to advance relations between North Korea and China."

This marked the first ARF meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in two years after they skipped talks during the previous ASEAN gathering in Malaysia last year.

The talks came as the nations have shown signs of improving their traditionally close-knit relations that have been strained after North Korea's defiant military provocations despite warnings issued by Beijing and China's participation in international sanctions against Pyongyang.

After holding a press conference on his meeting with his ASEAN counterparts, Wang told Yonhap News Agency that the meeting with the North was "good," without elaborating further.

China's move to forge better ties with Pyongyang came on the heels of the Asian power's relations with South Korea taking a turn for the worse over the move to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier in the month, Seoul and Washington announced they will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system by the end of next year, a decision that was reached despite Beijing's repeated objections.

In his talks with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se late Sunday, Wang strongly blamed the Seoul government for hurting the foundation of trust between the two countries by pushing to deploy THAAD. He called for "practical" measures from the South to bring the ties back to normal.



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