China urges North, South Korea to ‘seize opportunity’

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BEIJING, March 7, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – China has cautiously welcomed an
agreement by North and South Korea to hold a historic summit, urging both
sides to “seize the current opportunity” to promote the denuclearisation of
the peninsula.

The foreign ministry issued a statement late Tuesday praising the
“positive outcomes” of a meeting between South Korean envoys and North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

The two countries agreed to hold a summit between Kim and South Korean
President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone in late April, according to
Seoul.

Pyongyang was also said to be ready to halt nuclear and missile tests, and
consider the dramatic step of abandoning costly and controversial WMD
programmes if the United States agrees not to attack or overthrow the regime.

“We hope that the DPRK and the ROK can earnestly implement the relevant
consensus and continue with their efforts to advance reconciliation and
cooperation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in the
statement, using the acronyms of the North and South.

“We hope that all relevant parties can seize the current opportunity, work
for the shared goal and make concerted efforts to promote the process of
denuclearisation of the Peninsula and politically resolving the Korean
Peninsula issue,” Geng said.

“China is willing to continue to play its due role to this end.”

Earlier on Tuesday, before the landmark announcement, Geng had told
reporters that “interactions” between North and South Korea “should be
expanded” to include the United States.

US President Donald Trump welcomed Pyongyang’s offer as positive — and
apparently sincere — crediting Washington’s “very, very strong” sanctions
push, as well as “big help” from China, for the potential diplomatic
breakthrough.

Calling the statements coming out of both Seoul and Pyongyang “very
positive,” Trump refused to rule out a historic meeting with Kim.

“We have come a long way at least rhetorically with North Korea,” Trump
said. “It would be a great thing for the world, it would be a great thing for
North Korea, it would be a great thing for the peninsula, but we will see
what happens,” he said in the Oval Office.

“We are going to do something, one way or the other, we are going to do
something and not let that situation fester,” Trump said, in a reference to
the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

The breakthrough should please Beijing as the Asian superpower, fearing a
conflict at its border, has repeatedly called for negotiations to resolve the
nuclear crisis.

China has also urged the United States, Japan and South Korea to suspend
joint military drills in the region in return for North Korea to halt its
nuclear activities.

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