Talks with China on stability

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Talks with China on stability

South Korea and China agreed yesterday that stability on the Korean Peninsula is the top priority for both following the death of Kim Jong-il and pledged a strengthening of bilateral cooperation to ensure it, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

The agreement was made between envoys at the fourth annual strategic dialogue in Seoul led by South Korean First Vice Minister Park Suk-hwan and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun.

“The two sides reached a consensus that the most important thing is the will to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae told a media briefing after the half-day dialogue.

“Regarding the issues of the Korean Peninsula, the two sides agreed to enhance strategic communication and expand the areas to form consensus.”

The North is transferring Kim Jong-il’s power to his son and successor Kim Jong-un, and Seoul is trying to beef up efforts to cooperate with China, the North’s closest ally.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan talked by phone with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, on Dec. 18, when the two sides agreed on the importance of peace and stability on the peninsula.

Lim Sung-nam, Seoul’s top representative to the stalled six-party talks, met his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, during a two-day visit to Beijing through last Friday and called for coordination between South Korea and China in reviving the aid-for-denuclearization talks.

The strategic dialogue between the foreign ministries of the two countries has been held since 2008, alternating in Beijing and Seoul, after the leaders of the two countries upgraded the bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership during a bilateral summit in August 2008.

Before starting the closed-door talks yesterday, Zhang said the dialogue has served as a channel for in-depth communication on international affairs, the geopolitical situation in the region and bilateral issues.

“The bilateral relations are standing at the starting point of a new history,” Zhang told reporters.


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

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