The Korea Times -South Korean President Moon Jae-in stressed the need to prevent military tensions on the Korean Peninsula from rising further in a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday.
“The recent situations, in which dialogue between North Korea and the United States has been suspended and tensions on the Korean Peninsula are being heightened, are not beneficial to both of our countries and North Korea,” Moon told Xi in front of pool reporters at the start of their summit held at the Great Hall of the People.
“This year, there have been many accomplishments and changes in South Korea-China relations and the Korean Peninsula security conditions,” he added.
Moon cited China’s “important role” so far in efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace.
He expressed hope for close cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang to seize a rare opportunity to bear fruit in the denuclearization process.
Moon held out expectations for full-fledged synergy between China’s Belt and Road initiative and his administration’s New Southern Policy that would lead to joint projects in third nations.
Moon added he’s looking forward to meeting Xi again in Seoul in the near future. Xi is expected to travel to Seoul as early as the spring.
Xi pointed out that China and South Korea are “influential” countries not just in Asia but also in the world.
“We have been friends and partners that have continued close cooperation,” Xi said. “We have a wide range of common understandings in various fields, including on further developing bilateral relations, facilitating regional peace, stability and prosperity, and defending multilateralism and a free trade system.”
He added that the two sides should further strengthen their “strategic cooperative partnership.”
Xi expected Moon’s ongoing trip to China to help further develop Seoul-Beijing ties and deepen trilateral cooperation involving Japan.
It was not immediately confirmed whether they discussed the sensitive matter of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.
Moon had the talks with Xi right after landing in the Chinese capital on his way to Chengdu, Sichuan province, for a three-way summit with the leaders of Japan and China.
It marked their first one-on-one talks in half a year following the previous session held in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting.
Increased activities have been spotted in the secretive communist nation’s long-range rocket launch site near its border with China, coupled with its stated threat of a “Christmas gift” for the Trump administration, which apparently means major provocation, according to multiple news reports.
Pyongyang has warned that it would wait just until the end of this year for the Trump administration to change tack and put forward a fresh offer based on a “new calculation” in nuclear negotiations.
The North announced Sunday it has decided to bolster its military capability during the latest meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party presided over by leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korea hopes to maintain close coordination especially with China, the U.S., Japan and Russia in order to maintain dialogue momentum and revitalize the Korea peace process.
China, a traditional ally of North Korea, recently proposed that the United Nations Security Council ease some sanctions against Pyongyang so that it can resume exports on a limited basis and inter-Korean rail and road projects.
After having lunch with Xi, Moon is to leave for Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. It is the venue for this year’s group summit of South Korea, China and Japan.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will host the session, which Abe will also join.
The trade ministers of the three regional powers had negotiations on a three-way free trade agreement in Beijing on Sunday. They agreed to accelerate related talks.
Moon and Li are scheduled to meet bilaterally later Monday. They plan to discuss ways to promote “substantive cooperation” between their nations on economy, trade, environment and culture.
On Tuesday morning, Moon, Li and Abe plan to hold their first trilateral summit since the previous one in Tokyo in May last year.
In the afternoon, Moon will have one-on-one talks with Abe, which may serve as a chance to improve relations between the neighboring countries embroiled in a monthslong trade fight apparently linked to a dispute over shared history.
In what is viewed as a conciliatory gesture in advance of the Moon-Abe summit, the Japanese government said Friday it has relaxed some export restrictions against South Korea.
The measure affects only photoresist, a chemical used to make semiconductors and one of three products subject to tightened customs procedures.
Moon’s office, Cheong Wa Dae, however, said the move may be deemed “some progress” but stressed it is not sufficient to resolve the export control problem.
The Chengdu summit between Moon and Abe on Christmas Eve comes less than two months after they had a brief “impromptu meeting” in Bangkok just ahead of a multilateral summit hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
They last had bilateral summit talks in September last year during their visit to New York for a United Nations General Assembly session. (Yonhap)