Leaders of China, South Korea to Discuss North Korea Nuclear Threat

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July 1, 2014, 10:31 a.m.

The lead­ers of South Korea and China are slated to hold a sum­mit this week that will closely con­sider North Korea’s nuc­le­ar weapons work.

Chinese Pres­id­ent Xi Jin­ping is sched­uled to travel to South Korea to meet with South Korean Pres­id­ent Park Geun-hye for their fifth meet­ing so far this year. The vis­it comes as Xi has yet to sit down with North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, Re­u­ters re­ports. In­ter­na­tion­al ob­serv­ers are ex­pec­ted to watch if Xi gives any in­dic­a­tion of his gov­ern­ment’s per­ceived frus­tra­tion with Py­ongy­ang’s con­tin­ued pro­voc­at­ive tac­tics and pur­suit of a de­liv­er­able nuc­le­ar weapon.

China has long been North Korea’s biggest for­eign ally and chief eco­nom­ic be­ne­fact­or. However, the bel­li­ger­ent ac­tions of the Kim re­gime in re­cent years —  in­clud­ing the ap­par­ent test-fir­ing in 2012 of a long-range bal­list­ic mis­sile, a 2013 nuc­le­ar test and re­peated threats earli­er this spring of an­oth­er atom­ic det­on­a­tion, as well as the high-pro­file ex­e­cu­tion last winter of Kim’s uncle — are thought to have pushed Beijing to the lim­its of its pa­tience.

Xi and Park “are ex­pec­ted to spend con­sid­er­able time dis­cuss­ing the North Korean nuc­le­ar and the Korean pen­in­sula is­sues in depth, and we be­lieve the at­mo­sphere will be ap­pro­pri­ately re­flec­ted in a joint doc­u­ment,” South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Yun By­ung-se told law­makers on Monday. Chinese Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min on Tues­day said the North Korean nuc­le­ar im­passe would be an “im­port­ant top­ic” for dis­cus­sion dur­ing the Seoul-Beijing meet­ing.

Both China and South Korea are par­ti­cipants in a frozen six-na­tion pro­cess aimed at per­man­ently end­ing North Korea’s nuc­le­ar work. While Seoul wants Py­ongy­ang to first provide a con­crete ges­ture of its com­mit­ment to de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion be­fore the ne­go­ti­ations are re­sumed, Beijing does not be­lieve there should be any pre­con­di­tions be­fore talks con­tin­ue.

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