Fri, Dec 08, 2017 - Page 6 News List

S Korea’s Moon to visit China for talks on N Korean threat

AFP, SEOUL

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to visit China next week for talks on North Korea and other issues, his office said on Wednesday, amid tentative signs of diplomatic movement after months of high tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats.

The announcement came as a high-level UN representative held talks with a senior North Korean official during a rare trip to Pyongyang.

UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on Tuesday arrived in North Korea to discuss what the world body described as “issues of mutual interest and concern.”

He and North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Myong-kuk discussed “cooperation between the DPRK and the UN secretariat, and assistance from UN agencies to the DPRK and other matters of mutual interest,” the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, using the acronym for the nation’s official name.

Feltman’s trip — the first by a UN diplomat of his rank since 2010 — came less than a week after North Korea test-fired a new ballistic missile said to be capable of reaching the US.

Discussing ways to “peacefully resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue” is to be on Moon’s agenda when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) next week, Moon’s office said.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said the visit would discuss “international and regional issues of common concern,” including “increasing communication and coordination on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.”

China has proposed that North Korea suspend its missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a suspension of US-South Korean military exercises, a suggestion Washington has repeatedly rejected.

A US B-1B bomber flew over the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said, as part of a major joint air exercise.

The five-day Vigilant Ace drill — involving about 230 aircraft including F-22 Raptor stealth jets — began on Monday, five days after North Korea’s missile test.

A spokesperson for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the military exercises were “creating touch-and-go situation on the Korean Peninsula,” KCNA reported.

The spokesperson also criticized comments by the White House’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who warned the potential for war with North Korea was increasing every day.

“Violent war remarks ... amid such circumstances have made an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula an established fact,” the spokesman said. “The remaining question now is: when will the war break out.”

Moon is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Wednesday for a four-day state visit, his first trip to China since taking office in May.

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