SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- The issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program will feature prominently in the forthcoming talks between the U.S. and Chinese presidents, South Korea's foreign ministry said Thursday, emphasizing the American side's determination to settle the drawn-out problem.
"The U.S. has said openly and repeatedly that issues of North Korea and its nuclear program will be discussed as core subjects during the U.S.-China summit and it has also constantly stressed a bigger role China should play to resolve the North Korean issues," Cho June-hyuck, spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press briefing.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet for their first talks in Florida on Thursday. The meeting is widely expected to set the tone for the future U.S. policy direction toward North Korea, whose nuclear weapons program is posing the most serious security threat ever.
The U.S. considers now is not the time to talk about dialogue with North Korea, the spokesman said, referring to remarks to the media by Matt Pottinger, senior National Security Council director for Asia, and the State Department's Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton a day earlier.
The U.S. also warned that North Korea is now strategic liability to China, not a strategic asset, Cho said, indicating that such remarks clearly show the U.S.' determination to accelerate efforts to solve the North Korean issues.
"South Korea and the U.S. share the staunch belief that China's role is needed more than ever in order to bring North Korea to the path of denuclearization," the spokesman noted.
Cho said South Korea plans to flesh out the joint U.S.-South Korea approach to North Korea through close high-level talks following the summit.
He added that South Korea and China will have the highest-level communication at the earliest time possible after the summit in order to share the summit results with South Korea, apparently referring to contact between Trump and Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.
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