Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

North Korea seen "cautious" in announcing stance over upcoming summits: Seoul

North Korea seen

Just days after he stood outside the White House and announced the planned meet between the United States president and the North Korean leader, Chung Eui-yong was in Beijing to brief Xi and China's top diplomats on the fast-moving efforts to address the nuclear standoff. The South Korean leader visited Beijing in December on a trip aimed at thawing tense bilateral relations strained over Seoul's decision to host a U.S. missile defense system that Beijing sees as a threat to its own security.

China is "on the same page" with Seoul over the issues of the Korean peninsula, President Xi Jinping said on Monday, a spokesman of South Korea's presidential Blue House said.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared Friday that he is ready to hold a summit with Kim by the end of May.

He said Japan would work closely with the United States and South Korea including on solving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted in the past by North Korea.

Renmin University Korean affairs specialist Cheng Xiaohe said Chung's visit to Beijing could be "a very good opportunity" for Beijing to understand what Pyongyang needed for a commitment to abandon its weapons programme.

Chung said he wants to discuss a variety of matters that have seen progress recently and find ways to achieve close cooperation between South Korea and China.

North Korea's foreign trade, more than 90 per cent of which passes through China, has taken a major hit since Beijing agreed to increasingly harsh U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Pyongyang into ceasing its nuclear and missile tests and rejoining denuclearization talks.

The North Korean nuclear crisis is at a crossroads and Washington and Pyongyang should hold direct talks as soon as possible.

Yang said China supports the current diplomatic efforts and added that the nuclear standoff with the North should be resolved peacefully.

While China supports maintaining sanctions for the time being, it is prepared to restore its trading relationship with the North in the event of a breakthrough in order to "create a favorable external environment for North Korea's sustainable economic development", Cheng wrote.

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