China urges US, North Korea to stay the course of denuclearisation and peace

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands during their bilateral meeting at the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore on Aug 3, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Denuclearisation and the peace process on the Korean Peninsula must move forward, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday (Aug 3) after meeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in Singapore.

He stressed the importance of this "very precious" consensus to achieve denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and a mechanism for peace, reached by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump during their historic summit in Singapore on June 12.

Mr Pompeo had said earlier Friday that "we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we're looking", when asked about North Korea's continued effort to make bomb fuel and build new missiles.

Mr Wang told reporters after meeting several of his counterparts from the region: "We should work hard to achieve it (Trump-Kim consensus) and not give up halfway and move backwards."

He added that China hopes that the US would agree to reasonable requests from North Korea over the course of their negotiations.

"Of course, negotiations cannot all be smooth-sailing, especially on an issue this complicated and sensitive," said Mr Wang. "But since the direction has been set, we should continue to move forward steadfastly so that our friends in North Korea will continue to (support) denuclearisation."

During their Singapore summit, Mr Trump and Mr Kim committed to work towards denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula, but did not spell out how it might be achieved.

Mr Pompeo told a US Senate committee hearing last month that North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs in spite of its pledge.

Asked about this enroute to Singapore yesterday for the Asean-US ministerial meeting, Mr Pompeo told reporters: "Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearise. "The world demanded that they (North Korea) do so in the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are in violation of one or both the UNSC resolutions and we can see we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we're looking for."

Mr Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, said overcoming difficulties in US-North Korea negotiations is key, and that he encouraged Mr Pompeo and Mr Ri to build trust and implement the consensus that their leaders reached in June.

"The direction is correct, although the process might be long and winding. But there is agreement on the direction, which is beneficial to the region and to world peace at large. Therefore we should follow through on it."

Mr Wang also said he talked with Mr Pompeo on improving China-US trade relations. The US has imposed 25-per-cent tariffs on US$34 billion (S$46.4 billion) of imports from China and is threatening to do the same on another US$200 billion. China has vowed to retaliate.

"We have stated our position clearly, that we wish to negotiate with the US on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect," said Mr Wang.

"He (Pompeo) was accommodating on this as a direction, and said that he does not want current frictions to continue."

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