China’s Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan met in Seoul to discuss matters pertaining to peace and stability of the peninsula. After the death of leader Kim Jong-Il and the support from China for his successor, son Kim Jong-Un, China and South Korea have agreed that stability in North Korea is a top priority. The Yonhap News Agency reports:
Before starting the three-hour talks, Park told reporters, “It is very timely and significantly meaningful for the two sides to hold these talks at a time when security conditions on the Korean Peninsula have been in focus since the passing of Kim Jong-il.”
Maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula is in the “common interest” of both South Korea and China, Park said, adding he hoped the talks would give the two nations a chance to broaden their “consensus on achieving that strategic target.”
In response, Zhang did not comment on the death of Kim, but said that South Korea and China are “on the cusp of a new historic starting point.”
The talks between Park and Zhang came after South Korean media criticized China for estranging itself from the South to strengthen its influence over the North in the wake of Kim’s death.
North Korea’s nuclear disarmament is another major issue between the Koreas and China. The Express Tribune adds:
World powers are watching the nuclear-armed North after longtime leader Kim died on December 17 and his son Kim Jong-Un was proclaimed as “great successor”.
China chairs long-stalled six-party talks on the North’s nuclear disarmament which also involve the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan.
Negotiations to revive the forum, which has been at a standstill since the last meeting in December 2008, appeared to be making progress before Kim’s death.
Media reports said Pyongyang would agree to suspend its disputed uranium enrichment programme in return for food aid from Washington.
See also China Moves Quickly to Support North Korea via CDT