Foreign minister to arrive in China

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Foreign minister to arrive in China

South Korea Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan is scheduled to arrive in China tomorrow for a three-day visit. He will meet his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

It is the latest in the series of diplomatic moves among six-party dialogue partners to try to bring North Korea back to the negotiation table.

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul has said Yu will exchange opinions with China on a range of issues of common interest. Yu and Yang will talk about the countries’ overall diplomatic relations and bilateral trade, but that the North Korean nuclear standoff will likely dominate their discussions.

Nuclear officials from South Korea, China and Japan have recently visited each other’s countries to discuss ways to restart the stalled six-party discussions. But ahead of Yu’s trip, a high-ranking South Korean official guarded against any optimistic outlook.

“Efforts are being made to restart the talks, but we’ll have to wait and see [when the talks will actually take place],” the official told the JoongAng Daily. “There’s no change to our position that North Korea has to return to the table with no strings attached.”

As preconditions, North Korea has asked for easing of international sanctions and negotiations for a peace treaty that would replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953. The official explained that China could be “more flexible than other parties” on the North Korean demands.

“But it’s not as though China is dictating the whole situation and telling everyone else what to do,” the official added. “All parties are urging each other to help get the talks started again.”

By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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