Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 1 News List

South Korea official says China, Russia back peace efforts

Reuters, SEOUL

South Korean National Security Office Director Chung Eui-yong speaks with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has offered encouragement for South Korea’s initiative to nurture peaceful engagement with North Korea and Russia has also expressed support, the South Korean official leading diplomatic efforts said yesterday.

Over the past week, South Korean National Security Office Director Chung Eui-yong briefed officials in Beijing and Moscow following his dramatic success in arranging summits between the North Korean, South Korean and US leaders.

“Xi Jinping offered a Chinese phrase that says: ‘Once hard ice melts, spring comes and flowers bloom’ to describe the situation on the Korean Peninsula and expressed his willingness to support the current situation,” Chung told reporters on his return to Incheon International Airport.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told the South Korean delegation led by Chung that he was open to addressing denuclearization with the US, an offer that led to US President Donald Trump agreeing to meet Kim for a summit expected to be held sometime in May.

There was growing speculation yesterday that Trump and Kim will meet in Sweden, after the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced that North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho would be traveling to Sweden for two days of talks with Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom.

Sweden’s embassy in Pyongyang represents US diplomatic interests in North Korea in the absence of US diplomatic relations with the country.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to hold a summit with Kim by the end of next month.

The South’s preparation committee for the inter-Korean summit, led by South Korean Chief Presidential Secretary Im Jong-seok, is to hold its first official meeting today, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a briefing.

The committee is comprised of presidential and government officials, including the ministers of unification, foreign affairs and defense, Kim Eui-kyeom said.

Separately, a South Korean official said it was too early to discuss joint economic projects with Pyongyang.

The official said Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) would visit Seoul on Tuesday next week for talks with South Korean security officials.

The flurry of diplomatic activity comes after a year-long verbal spat between Kim Jong-un and Trump, with tensions exacerbated by multiple missile and nuclear tests by the North, which has said it will forge on with its nuclear program to protect its regime.

“China and Russia agreed to continue cooperation to uphold the peace that has been created, as well as the momentum for stability through close communication,” Chung said.

North Korea has friendly ties with both Beijing and Moscow, and China is by far its biggest trading partner.

Pyongyang has remained silent about its agreement for the summits since Chung returned from the North, although officials in Seoul have said they expect to continue talks soon to work out details for the inter-Korean summit.

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