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(LEAD) Top nuclear envoys of S. Korea, China hold talks on N. Korea

Diplomacy 10:59 May 03, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; CHANGES headline, lead, photo)
By Kim Eun-jung and Chae Yun-hwan

SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) -- The chief nuclear envoys of South Korea and China met in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss security situations on the Korean Peninsula amid concerns about North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats.

Liu Xiaoming, Beijing's special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs, was on his first visit to Seoul since assuming the post in April 2021 at a time of heightened tensions over Pyongyang's recent spate of missile launches and reported signs of preparations for another nuclear test.

In his first public activity here, he had a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk, at the foreign ministry building, apparently to share their assessments of the regional security situation.

Noh Kyu-duk (R), special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart, Liu Xiaoming, ahead of their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 3, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

With a week left before President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's inauguration and three weeks to go for his summit talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, Beijing's top envoy is also set to meet with officials from the incoming administration. They include Kim Tae-hyo, tapped as Yoon's deputy national security adviser, according to an informed source.

Liu expressed concerns over the rising tension on the peninsula and reaffirmed China's commitment to play a "positive role" but said the key to a resolution to the issue is in the hands of Pyongyang and Washington.

"China is concerned about the tense situation on the Peninsula. We call on all parties to stay cool-headed and exercise restraint, and we disapprove (of) actions by any party that could escalate tension," he wrote on his Twitter page Sunday.

China is ready to work with South Korea to push forward "the political settlement process" on the matter, he said, describing the two sides as "important cooperation partners."

"It is important to take a comprehensive approach, deal with both the symptoms and root cause of the problem, and address the legit and reasonable concerns of all parties in a balanced way," he added, without mentioning North Korea by name.

Last month, the chief South Korean and U.S. nuclear envoys agreed to jointly push for a new U.N. Security Council resolution against the North for its recent missile launches. But its prospects remain dim, with China and Russia, both veto-wielding permanent members, having maintained a lukewarm stance toward imposing additional sanctions on the North.

In the afternoon, Liu will visit the Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs, for a meeting with Vice Minister Choi Young-joon, followed by a courtesy call on Unification Minister Lee In-young.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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