Chinese foreign minister to visit South Korea amid stalled inter-Korea talks

China foreign minister Wang Yi will arrive in Seoul on Sept 14 for a two-day stay.
China foreign minister Wang Yi will arrive in Seoul on Sept 14 for a two-day stay.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - China's foreign minister will visit South Korea next week amid stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea, Seoul's foreign ministry said on Tuesday (Sept 7).

Mr Wang Yi, who is also a state councillor, will arrive in Seoul on Sept 14 for a two-day stay and hold talks the next day with his counterpart, Mr Chung Eui-yong, the ministry said.

"The two ministers plan to exchange in-depth opinions about the situation of the Korean peninsula, and regional and global issues," the ministry said in a statement.

It added that both sides would hold a separate meeting to explore ways to promote cultural exchanges ahead of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.

Mr Wang's trip comes amid stalled negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes in return for United States sanctions relief, which fell apart in 2019.

A reactivation of inter-Korean hotlines in July boosted hopes for a restart of the denuclearisation talks. But North Korea stopped answering the hotlines as South Korea and the US began their annual military exercises in August, which Pyongyang has warned could trigger a security crisis.

A day before Mr Wang's arrival, the chief nuclear negotiators of South Korea, the US and Japan will most likely meet in Tokyo, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman said that meeting has not yet been finalised.

The US special envoy for North Korea, Mr Sung Kim, said in Seoul late last month that Washington has no hostile intent towards Pyongyang and that he is ready to resume dialogue "anywhere at any time." South Korea and China could also discuss a visit to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which had been expected in early 2020 but was postponed amid the pandemic.

China, North Korea's sole major ally, has played a key role in efforts to press it to dismantle its nuclear programmes.