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(LEAD) Unification minister seeks cooperation with China, Japan for peace on peninsula

All Headlines 18:38 April 17, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 5, 11)

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul called Wednesday for joint efforts with China and Japan to build peace on the Korean Peninsula in his first meetings with the top envoys from the neighboring countries since taking office.

"I hope South Korea and China will closely cooperate for peace on the Korean Peninsula and joint prosperity," Kim said during his meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Qiu Guohong at the government complex in Seoul.

Congratulating Kim on his inauguration, the Chinese envoy praised President Moon Jae-in's efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and mediate negotiations between the United States and North Korea.

"I am sure that Minister Kim will be able to play a more important role in pushing for improvement in inter-Korean relations and establishing peace and security on the Korean peninsula in his new position," Qiu said through an interpreter.

His office later said that the minister emphasized the importance of China's "constructive" role in denuclearization and a peace settlement in the region, adding that the two shared the need for close cooperation and communication in the process.

Kim was chief of the Seoul-based Korea Institute for National Unification think tank before his inauguration last week.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul (R) poses with Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong at the government complex in Seoul on April 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

After meeting with Qiu, Kim also held talks Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine.

"I appreciate your efforts to improve South Korea-Japan relations," Kim told the Japanese envoy. "I hope cooperation between the two countries can be strengthened in the process of building peace on the peninsula."

The Japanese ambassador said he looks forward to the minister playing active roles at a time when the historic summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is approaching its first anniversary.

"As you take on the important job, I look forward to your active role based on the knowledge and experience you have accumulated so far," the Japanese diplomat said.

Kim and Nagamine also shared the need for close cooperation and communication in the process of denuclearization and the establishment of peace in the region, the minister's office said later.

On Tuesday, the minister met with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris, during which he pledged close cooperation with Washington in resolving North Korea's nuclear issue.

Prior to his inauguration, the scholar-turned-minister was known for his support for more active inter-Korean economic cooperation and criticism of sanctions imposed on the North.

The series of meetings came as South Korea is pushing to hold a fourth summit between President Moon and the North Korean leader in a bid to move forward the stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul (R) poses with Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine at the government complex in Seoul on April 17, 2019. (Yonhap)


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