Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China’s foreign minister to visit N Korea this week

AFP, BEIJING

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, fourth left, is applauded by his senior secretaries in Seoul yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) is to visit North Korea from tomorrow to Thursday at the invitation of North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho, his office said yesterday, becoming the highest-ranking Chinese official to travel there in years.

Wang is to be the first Chinese foreign minister to visit North Korea since 2007.

China has supported a series of UN sanctions against the North over its nuclear weapons program, but Beijing is likely eager to avoid being marginalized in the wave of diplomacy that led to the historic Korean summit on Friday last week.

“The Chinese are undoubtedly eager to hear what [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un’s plan is for his meeting with [US President] Donald Trump,” said Bonnie Glaser, China specialist at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Being left out of peace talks would be unacceptable to Beijing, Glaser said.

“The Chinese want to ensure that they are at the table and have a means to influence the course of events on the [Korean] Peninsula,” she said.

A divided Korea has played in China’s favor, as the North serves as a buffer from the South, where US troops are stationed.

China has repeatedly proposed that the North suspend its nuclear and missile tests in return for the US and South Korea halting their joint military exercises, and is likely irritated it has been ignored, Glaser said.

Meanwhile, South Korea said it is to remove propaganda-broadcasting loudspeakers from the border with the North.

The South Korean Ministry of National Defense said it would today remove dozens of its loudspeakers before media cameras.

Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said Seoul expects Pyongyang to do the same.

Additional reporting by AP

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