China says it hopes North and South Korea can make contact soon

MANILA (REUTERS, AFP) - China's foreign minister on Monday (Aug 7) said his country supported initiatives put forward by South Korea to handle tensions on the Korean peninsula and Beijing was ready to see contact made soon between the North and South on the issue.

Wang Yi told reporters on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Manila that he hoped those countries could improve relations, and that North Korea's foreign minister did not entirely reject differences in opinion voiced by his South Korean counterpart.

North Korea's Ri Yong Ho told his Kang Kyung Wha in a meeting on the sidelines of the regional meeting on Sunday that Seoul's proposal to improve ties with the North "lacks sincerity", the South's Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday.

Their brief encounter took place ahead of an Asean Regional Forum dinner on Sunday, Yonhap said.

Kang urged Ri to accept Seoul's offers of military talks to lower tensions on the divided peninsula, and for discussions on a new round of reunions for divided families.

But Ri retorted: "Given the current situation in which the South collaborates with the US to heap pressure on the North, such proposals lacked sincerity," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

The encounter came a day after the UN Security Council passed sweeping sanctions on the North over its first successful test on July 4 of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which sparked global alarm. The growing threat from the nuclear-armed North dominated the annual forum, which came days after the North's second ICBM test on July 28.