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(4th LD) Wang says S. Korea, China will seek 'political' resolution process for Korean Peninsula issue

Diplomacy 18:00 April 03, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS Chung's remarks and press release in paras 11-17)
By Song Sang-ho

BEIJING/SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that China and South Korea will seek a process for a "political" resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue, raising prospects of joint efforts to resume dialogue with North Korea.

Wang made the remarks during talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen, as Seoul seeks to enlist cooperation from Beijing and other countries to move forward its stalled agenda for lasting peace on the peninsula.

The talks came amid renewed tensions caused by North Korea's recent short-range missile launches and its hardening rhetoric against the South and a U.N. panel report that the reclusive regime continues to develop its nuclear and missile programs.

"South Korea and China -- crucial countries in this region -- are strategic partners and have common or similar positions on preservation of regional peace and stability, pursuit of co-development and security of global governance," Wang said at the start of the talks.

"China, along with South Korea, will seek a process for a political resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue," he added.

Casting the two countries as "eternal neighbors," Wang underscored the importance of strategic communication between Seoul and Beijing and said that his talks with Chung came in a "very timely" manner.

Wang pointed out that the two sides favor "openness and inclusiveness" -- remarks that seem to signal opposition to the United State's move to bring together its allies and other like-minded countries against an assertive China.

"We will safeguard an international situation with the United Nations at its core. We hope that we can maintain the international order based on international law and work together to protect multilateralism and expand shared interests," he said.

Chung stressed that the two countries share the common goal of the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

"I expect that China will play an active role for the stable management of the situation on the peninsula and substantive progress in the Korean Peninsula peace process," he said.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong speaks during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen on April 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

After the talks, Chung told reporters that the two countries agreed to seek a visit to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping at an early date as soon as the COVID-19 situation stablizes.

Chung also said that the Chinese government threw its support behind Seoul's policy for lasting peace and the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

"To achieve the two goals, I asked for China's constructive role, and China pledged to do what it can to cooperate," he said.

The minister noted, without elaboration, that the two sides had a "candid" exchange of views on "various global-level situations."

Later, in a press release, the foreign ministry said that the ministers agreed to seek to hold a vice foreign ministerial strategic dialogue and a "two-plus-two" dialogue involving the countries' diplomatic and security officials -- both in the first half of this year.

Chung and Wang also agreed to continuously explore cooperation between South Korea's regional policy initiatives and China's One Belt and One Road initiative.

In addition, they agreed to launch a joint committee in the first half to craft a road map for the future development of the countries' relations, as Seoul and Beijing are set to mark the 30th anniversary next year of the establishment of their ties.

Chung's first overseas trip since his inauguration in February has taken on geopolitical overtones, as the U.S. is pushing to tighten a network of democratic allies amid a heightened rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

The bilateral talks came against the backdrop of Wang's brisk diplomacy toward neighboring countries apparently aimed at enlisting their cooperation amid growing tensions with the U.S.

A South Korean foreign minister last visited China in November 2017. The last foreign ministerial talks between the countries took place in Seoul in November.

Chung is set to return home on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (L) and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, bump elbows before their talks at a hotel in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen on April 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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