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(2nd LD) Park meets with China's top foreign policy maker

2013/11/18 20:00

SEOUL, Nov. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye told China's top foreign policy maker Monday that North Korea should demonstrate its denuclearization commitment through action, her office said, as Beijing steps up diplomacy to jump-start the long-stalled nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

President Park Geun-hye shakes hands with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi during a meeting in Seoul on Nov. 18. (Yonhap)

The remark to Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi appears to underscore South Korea's long-running point that six-party talks on ending the North's nuclear program should reopen after making sure that Pyongyang is serious about disarming.

China has been making a renewed push to reopen the nuclear talks that have been dormant for nearly five years since the last session in late 2008. The Beijing-hosted talks bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Park also stressed that North Korea must show trustworthiness first on smaller issues like reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean war if it wants to gain greater trust on bigger issues from South Korea and the international community, the presidential office said.

She spoke of a Korean proverb, "See one and you've seen them all," it said.

Park and Yang also shared an understanding that if North Korea comes out on the right path, it will also be conducive to efforts to move cooperation in Northeast Asia forward, the office said in a statement.

Yang, who oversees China's foreign policy, arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a three-way visit that also includes talks with the presidential National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo, a meeting with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and a tour of industrial facilities.

Yang's visit has been anticipated as a follow-up to a summit agreement between Park and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in June that calls for the establishment of a new high-level security dialogue channel between the two neighboring countries.

In Monday's meeting, Yang also read aloud and conveyed Xi's message to Park, in which the Chinese president sent his regards and expressed hope for a meeting with Park during next year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Beijing plans to host, the office said.

Park also expressed gratitude for China's cooperation in Seoul's projects to establish commemorative stones in China to honor Korean independence fighters. Park raised the issues during the June summit with Xi.

Yang said he anticipates the two countries will accelerate free trade negotiations to work out a high-quality deal. South Korea and China launched free trade talks last year and have held a total of eight rounds of talks.

At the start of the meeting, Park said she believes Yang's visit "will be a good chance for the two countries to strengthen trust and bond." Details of their discussions were not immediately available.

South Korea's presidential national security advisor Kim Jang-soo (L) shakes hands with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi during a meeting in Seoul on Nov. 18. (Yonhap)

Yang later held talks with Kim about the North Korean nuclear issue and other matters.

"The two sides reaffirmed a firm common position on the unacceptability of North Korea's nuclear program and on their joint objective of denuclearization (of North Korea)," the presidential office said in a statement.

Kim showed appreciation for recent Chinese efforts to make substantial progress in denuclearizing the North, it said, adding that the two sides agreed to make every possible diplomatic effort to reach that goal and to promote peace and stability in the region.

They also discussed regional issues in Northeast Asia, including bilateral relations between the countries in the region, the office said without elaborating, apparently referring to Japan's strained ties with both South Korea and China.

Other topics for the talks included global issues, such as efforts to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons, international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and anti-cyberterrorism efforts, the office said.

Kim agreed to visit China next year for follow-up talks, the office added.