Park says North’s nukes unacceptable
The incoming president, however, said that doors will be open for dialogue and cooperation through a “trust-building process.”
“North Korea’s nuclear development can never be tolerated,” Park was quoted as saying by spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun. “South Korea will respond sternly to any provocations by the North.”
Cho said that Park, at the same time, said she will leave open the windows for dialogue and cooperation, including humanitarian aid.
In regards to the Seoul-Beijing relationship, Park said the two countries should “set a new vision to make a greater leap forward in the coming 20 years.”
“I hope that the ties between the two countries deepen, taking the opportunity that both countries are launching new governments,” Park told Zhang at her office in Tongui-dong, central Seoul.
This year, Korea and China celebrate the 21st anniversary of their diplomatic ties.
“[Our ties] have developed remarkably over a short period of time,” Park said, adding that she has visited China several times, including her visits in 2005 and 2007 when she met with President Hu Jintao.
Zhang, who was recently elected as a central committee member of the Communist Party of China, arrived in Seoul for a three-day visit on Wednesday as a special envoy sent by the Chinese government.
The Chinese official has been vice minister of the country’s foreign ministry since December 2010 and is reportedly known to have deep understanding of Korea.
Zhang has also attended the fourth and fifth Korea-China high-level strategic dialogues.
In response to Park’s remarks, Zhang delivered a congratulatory letter from incoming president Xi Jinping, which included messages that both countries should work to enhance bilateral ties to a new level.
“Over the past 20 years, Korea-China relations have developed immensely while the international and regional situation has been very complex,” Xi wrote. “And China places much importance on South Korea’s role.”
Xi also officially invited Park to visit China.
Zhang also met with Kim Yong-joon, chief of Park’s transition team, after his meeting with the president-elect. He also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan and exchanged views on bilateral relations.
The envoy’s meeting with Park comes at a time when North Korea has been condemned by the international community over its recent launch of a three-stage rocket on Dec. 12.
South Korea, along with the United States, is working to impose tougher sanctions on Pyongyang for going forward with the missile launch that is banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Seoul and Washington have been pressing Beijing to back them in adopting a new resolution to pressure North Korea, but China has remained lukewarm, saying that such a move should be done “prudently.”
Yesterday, foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said South Korea and other UN Security Council members have made “significant progress” in their discussions on possible actions against North Korea’s recent rocket launch.
By Lee Eun-joo [email@example.com]
By Lee Eun-joo