China Eager to Restart North Korea Nuclear Talks

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 20, 2014, 6:21 a.m.

China this week showed new en­thu­si­asm for re­viv­ing long-stalled six-na­tion talks aimed at achiev­ing per­man­ent North Korean de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion.

In a series of re­cent bi­lat­er­al meet­ings, Chinese dip­lo­mats met with U.S., South Korean and North Korean of­fi­cials to see if a path could be worked out for re­start­ing the aid-for-de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion ne­go­ti­ations, which also in­volve Ja­pan and Rus­sia, the Yon­hap News Agency re­por­ted. Chinese Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min spent much of the week meet­ing with of­fi­cials in Py­ongy­ang be­fore trav­el­ing to Seoul on Thursday for a three-day vis­it.

“We will con­tin­ue to make pos­it­ive ef­forts in our own way to press ahead with the re­sump­tion of the six-party talks,” Chinese For­eign Min­istry spokes­wo­man Hua Chun­y­ing said to journ­al­ists.

The last round of six-na­tion talks took place in late 2008. Since that time, North Korea has made not­able strides in its pro­gress to­ward ac­quir­ing a de­liv­er­able long-range nuc­le­ar weapon. The coun­try has con­duc­ted two more atom­ic tests, car­ried out its first suc­cess­ful launch of a space rock­et and moved to sub­stan­tially in­crease its fis­sile-ma­ter­i­al pro­duc­tion ca­pa­city.

Py­ongy­ang has also sought to se­cure in­ter­na­tion­al re­cog­ni­tion as a nuc­le­ar-armed state but with much less suc­cess. While the North has said it is open to re­turn­ing to ne­go­ti­ations, it has re­peatedly em­phas­ized its nuc­le­ar weapons pro­gram is in­vi­ol­able and that the United States should dis­arm first.

Wash­ing­ton and Seoul, for their part, have said they will not re­turn to the six-party dis­cus­sions un­til Py­ongy­ang first demon­strates a ser­i­ous com­mit­ment to ir­re­vers­ible de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion.

U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry last week vis­ited Beijing, where he said he and Chinese of­fi­cials ex­changed “spe­cif­ic” pro­pos­als for re­viv­ing the nuc­le­ar talks with North Korea. Dir­ectly after Kerry’s trip, Liu de­par­ted for Py­ongy­ang where he is thought to have shared with of­fi­cials there the pro­pos­als dis­cussed at the U.S.-China meet­ing, Yon­hap sep­ar­ately re­por­ted.

Liu told North Korean of­fi­cials that China would “nev­er al­low war or chaos” on the Korean Pen­in­sula, ac­cord­ing to a Chinese For­eign Min­istry state­ment. Beijing is gradu­ally re-es­tab­lish­ing high-level con­tacts with Py­ongy­ang that were briefly frozen after North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un sur­prised the world with his Decem­ber purge and ex­e­cu­tion of his power­ful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was seen as re­l­at­ively close to Beijing.

“Liu Zhen­min stressed that China ad­heres to the goal of de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion of the pen­in­sula, main­tain­ing peace and sta­bil­ity … and solv­ing prob­lems through dia­logue and ne­go­ti­ations,” the for­eign min­istry said.

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