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(LEAD) S. Korea, China exchange views on N. Korean nukes ahead of summit

2018/03/29 19:19

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(ATTN: UPDATES with additional details, more background in paras 10-14)

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- Ranking officials from South Korea and China met in Seoul on Thursday to exchange views on how to rid North Korea of its nuclear ambitions, while the two Koreas set the date for what could be a historic meeting between their leaders.

Chung Eui-yong, chief security advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, hosted Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and other Chinese officials here.

The Seoul meeting came one day after Beijing and Pyongyang announced a recent unofficial visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to China, where he held a bilateral summit with President Xi Jinping.

Chung Eui-yong (L), top security advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, ushers Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi into the venue for their talks at a Seoul hotel on March 29, 2018. (Yonhap) Chung Eui-yong (L), top security advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, ushers Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi into the venue for their talks at a Seoul hotel on March 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

"I congratulate and welcome the successful summit between President Xi and Chairman Kim," Chung told the visiting Chinese official at the start of their meeting at a Seoul hotel.

"I believe Chairman Kim reaffirming his commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the South-North Korea summit and the North-U.S. summit in his summit with President Xi has a very significant meaning," he added, referring to the North Korean leader by his official title as the chairman of the state affairs commission.

Moon and the North Korean leader are scheduled to meet for a third inter-Korean summit in late April. The two Koreas set April 27 as the date for the talks in a high-level dialogue held earlier in the day at the joint security area of Panmunjom, which will also be the venue for the upcoming inter-Korean summit.

The summit will mark the first time for a North Korean leader to step on South Korean soil, as it is set to be held on the southern side of the jointly controlled area, also known as the truce village, inside the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone.

Yang said Monday's Xi-Kim talks will contribute to the inter-Korean summit as well as the North Korea-U.S. summit, which is expected to be held in May.

"We believe Kim Jong-un's unofficial visit and summit with President Xi can help the South-North summit produce greater results," the Chinese official said through his interpreter, according to pool reports.

Later, Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said the officials discussed ways to enhance South Korea-China cooperation on establishing peace.

"The two sides agreed to continue their cooperation necessary to successfully holding the South-North and North-U.S. summits. (They) also held in-depth discussions on ways to increase South Korea-China cooperation for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said of the meeting in a press release.

They also discussed ways to implement an agreement reached by their leaders in a summit late last year to put the countries' relationship back on the right track.

Seoul-Beijing relations dipped to their lowest ebb last year when the new South Korean administration agreed to host a U.S. THAAD air defense system here in the wake of North Korean missile provocations.

Chung and Yang also reviewed the countries' joint efforts to reduce fine dust, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Yang is set to meet the South Korean president Friday, apparently to brief Moon on the outcome of the China-North Korea summit.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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