South Korea Urges China to Play a Bigger Role in Stopping North Korea's Weapons Tests

Seoul: On Tuesday, the President of South Korea Yoon Suk-yeol called for China to play a more active, constructive role in getting control over North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations, his office said, after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two chiefs held their first direct one-to-one meeting, lasting 25 minutes, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 conferences in Bali amid erupting tension over North Korean weapons tests.

Pyongyang has tested a record number of missiles this year, including a possible failed intercontinental long-range missile, and fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea more recently as South Korea and the United States staged a series of joint military drills. Yoon expressed concern that the isolated country has raised tension with an unprecedented pace of nuclear and missile provocations, his office said in a statement.

“I hope China will play a more active, constructive role as a member of the U.N. Security Council and a neighbor,” Yoon was quoted as telling Xi. China President Xi, in response, called for better inter-Korean relations, saying he was willing to support Yoon’s aid-for denuclearization offer if the North accepts it, Yoon’s office said.

Yoon has proposed an audacious economic plan if North Korea commits to denuclearization. But Pyongyang criticized the offer as nonsense and said Yoon should shut his mouth.

On the economy, Yoon and Xi agreed to speed up negotiations on the second phase of a bilateral free-trade agreement, according to Yoon’s office and Chinese state media.

Beijing’s state media also reported that President Xi showed hopes for more cooperation with South Korea in areas including high-tech manufacturing.

He vowed to ensure “safe, stable and smooth global supply chains” but said he opposes “politicization of economic cooperation”, the state media added.

Bilateral relations have soured in recent years amid China’s protest against a U.S. missile defense system stationed in South Korea and an escalating rivalry between Beijing and Washington. Yoon said he aims to foster regional and global freedom, harmony, and prosperity based on universal values and norms, asking Xi to support more active high-level talks to tackle complex challenges, Yoon’s office said.

Xi agreed on the need to support bilateral dialogue and build political trust and said he would visit Seoul when his country’s COVID-19 situation stabilizes, it added.

By Archana

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