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(LEAD) Park: S. Korea to begin discussions with China on Koreas' unification

2015/09/04 21:45

(ATTN: UPDATES with details)

SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Friday said South Korea and China could quickly begin various discussions on how to achieve a peaceful unification between South and North Korea.

"Peaceful unification is the fundamental and the quickest way to resolve nuclear and other issues," Park said in a press gaggle aboard Air Force One on the way back to Seoul from a trip to China, referring to tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Tensions persist on the divided peninsula over the North's pursuit of its missile and nuclear weapons program. The communist country has a track record of staging provocations against South Korea.

The North -- which conducted three nuclear tests -- has repeatedly vowed to develop its economy and nuclear arsenal in tandem, viewing its nuclear programs as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy against it.

South Korea "would cooperate with China for a peaceful unification," Park said. "Various discussions could begin as soon as possible on how to achieve a peaceful unification." She did not provide a specific time frame.

Park made the comments two days after she met with her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Beijing and they warned North Korea against conducting a missile or nuclear test.

The warning came amid speculation that North Korea may stage a provocation in October to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its Workers' Party.

Park has made pitches for unification in recent years, calling it a "bonanza" for South Korea as well as a blessing for neighboring countries.

Still, North Korea has long suspected that Seoul could be plotting to absorb Pyongyang, a claim denied by South Korea.

The rival Koreas remain technically in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.