Seize the moment, China urges

South Korea's President Moon Jae In (right) with top China diplomat Yang Jiechi in Seoul yesterday.
South Korea's President Moon Jae In (right) with top China diplomat Yang Jiechi in Seoul yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING • Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi has told South Korean President Moon Jae In that all parties must seize the moment to advance talks between leaders of the two Koreas, and between North Korea and the United States.

Tension over North Korea's tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles surged last year and raised fears of US military action in response to Pyongyang's threat to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US mainland.

But the situation has eased since North Korea decided to send athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.

The two sides, still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended in a ceasefire, not a truce, are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearisation.

Mr Yang, a top Chinese diplomat and member of China's elite Politburo, told Mr Moon yesterday on a visit to Seoul it was a crucial moment for alleviating the situation on the Korean peninsula, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

"All sides must seize the moment, work together, promote smooth meetings that achieve positive outcomes between leaders of South and North Korea, and between North Korea and the United States, and in due course, reopen a substantive political resolution process to the peninsula issue," the diplomat said.

Mr Yang also informed Mr Moon about Mr Kim's visit to Beijing this week, the North Korean leader's first known foreign trip since he assumed power in 2011, where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During his talks with Mr Yang, Mr Moon raised South Korea's concern about pollution arriving from China, saying cooperation with Beijing is needed not only to end tension over North Korea's weapons but also to tackle the problem of air pollution.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'Seize the moment, China urges'. Print Edition | Subscribe