Moon talks to Xi, asks for help with North Korea
Chinese President Xi Jinping replied positively to President Moon Jae-in’s request for Beijing to play a constructive role in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue, the Blue House said.
During a 40-minute phone conversation Tuesday night, Xi said he supports inter-Korean and North-U.S. talks. “China values Korea's effort to find a political resolution," Xi was quoted as saying by Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok.
According to Kang, Xi considers affairs on the Korean Peninsula to be generally stable. “I think North Korea’s position, announced to the outside world at the Eighth Workers’ Party Congress, is that it has not closed the door on talks with the United States and South Korea,” Xi was quoted as saying by Kang.
The phone talk, which began at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, was the first conversation between the two leaders since last May. It came as the new administration of President Joe Biden in the United States is shaping its foreign policy.
Moon has yet to have a phone conversation with Biden, who has talked with the leaders of Canada, Germany and France.
According to Kang, Moon extended yet another invitation to Xi to visit Korea. “We hope the two countries continue communication to arrange the visit at the earliest time as soon as Covid-19 subsides and conditions are met,” Moon was quoted as telling Xi.
Kang said Xi appreciated Moon’s invitation and said he hopes to visit Korea as soon as conditions permit.
On Wednesday, a presidential aide elaborated further on Xi’s remarks. “Xi told Moon that realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula serves the mutual interests of the two countries,” the source said. “China appreciates Moon’s efforts and actively supports them.”
He said the two leaders agreed to expand people-to-people exchanges to mark the 30th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations, which falls next year. Moon also invited Xi to the P4G summit, a global green growth event that Seoul is hosting in May.
Moon also requested China’s support to host a Korea-Japan-China summit that was postponed last year because of the pandemic, and Xi promised his support, the aide said.
China’s state-run media reported Wednesday the phone call between Moon and Xi but emphasized economic cooperation. There was no mention of North Korea issues or Xi's visit to Korea.
Xinhua News Agency reported on the phone conversation late Tuesday night, and the People’s Daily covered it on its front page.
Both reports mentioned the increase in Korea-China trade amidst the pandemic. “China hopes to strengthen its cooperation with Korea on global issues and work together to protect multilateralism and free trade,” Xi was quoted as saying.
Multilateralism and free trade were themes Xi hit in a videoconference speech for the World Economic Forum on Monday. As the Biden administration is strengthening its ties with democracies around the world to counter China, Xi has been promoting multilateralism and free trade. His phone call with Moon apparently was part of that effort.
According to Chinese media reports, Moon congratulated Xi on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.
“China’s prestige and influence in the international community have grown stronger day by day,” Moon was quoted as telling Xi.
Asked about the difference in emphasis by the Blue House and China, the presidential aide said the two leaders had no disagreement. “The mood was very amicable,” he said.
He also dismissed concerns that Moon talked with Xi ahead of an expected phone call with Biden. “We have been arranging this phone call since last year,” he said. “It was to exchange greetings for the New Year. It was planned before the Biden administration was launched, and its nature is different from the expected phone call with Biden to congratulate him on his inauguration.”
The source said he has no information on when Moon will talk with Biden. Moon’s National Security Adviser Suh Hoon had a phone conversation with his White House counterpart, Jake Sullivan, on Jan. 22.
BY SER MYO-JA, SHIN KYUNG-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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