Despite pressure, China reconfirms North ties

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Despite pressure, China reconfirms North ties

Top legislators from China and North Korea reconfirmed friendly relations in a meeting Wednesday, amid growing international condemnation of the North for its recent provocations and calls for China to play a bigger role in controlling its longtime ally.

According to Chinese media yesterday, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, met in Beijing with Choe Thae-bok, the chairman of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly.

Choe, who went to China on Tuesday as part of a five-day trip, is the first high-ranking North Korean official to visit China since the North’s fatal shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the recent revelation that it has a uranium enrichment facility, both last month.

Wu said at the meeting that China and North Korea are good neighbors and their bilateral relations have withstood the test of changes in the international arena, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Citing two visits by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to China this year, Wu said there has been significant progress in China-North Korea relations and the friendly ties will be further cemented and developed, Xinhua said.

Whether the two discussed the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula was not mentioned by the Chinese media.

The meeting was held hours before the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning North Korea for the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, with a call for China to rein in the North.

The resolution, which passed 403-2, “condemns North Korea in the strongest terms for its unprovoked military attack against South Korea in violation of the Korean War Armistice Agreement and for causing civilian casualties.”

The resolution also called on China to “restrain North Korea, its treaty ally, from further acts of belligerence and to work constructively with the international community to promote regional stability.”

The resolution was made as the foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are planning to have a tripartite meeting in Washington next Monday, allegedly to come up with a better plan to resolve current North Korea issues than the one proposed by China.

Wu Dawei, China’s top envoy to Korea, on Sunday proposed a meeting among the delegates to the stalled six-party talks. The proposal has been met with negative reactions from the three countries, which say that such a meeting would be the equivalent of rewarding the North for its provocations. The other two parties to the talks are North Korea and Russia.

“At the meeting, we will focus our discussion on North Korea issues, including how to respond to the Yeonpyeong provocation and the nuclear issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said during a media briefing yesterday.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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