S Korea, China hold talks on N Korea missile test, diplomacy stalled

FILE PHOTO: North Korea test-fires long-range cruise missile
FILE PHOTO: North Korea tests long-range cruise missile
FILE PHOTO: The National Defense Science Academy conducts long-range cruise missile tests in North Korea, as pictured in this combination of undated photos supplied by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 13, 2021 . Via KCNA REUTERS

September 15, 2021

by Hynohei Shino

SEOUL (Reuters) – The foreign ministers of South Korea and China held talks in Seoul on Wednesday amid concerns over North Korea’s recent missile test and stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

The meeting comes days after North Korea said it successfully tested a new, strategic long-range cruise missile last weekend in what analysts say could be the country’s first such weapon with a nuclear capability.

The test underscored continued progress in Pyongyang’s weapons program amid a deadlock over talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in exchange for US sanctions relief.

Seoul’s foreign ministry said South Korea’s Chung Yue-yong met Wang Yi, who is also the state counselor, on the second day of his two-day visit.

Chung vowed to keep peace with the North and hoped that the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing could provide an opportunity to launch that effort.

“We hope that China will continue to support our government’s Korea Peninsula peace process,” he told Wang at the start of the talks.

“We wish that the Northeast Asia Relay of the Olympics from PyeongChang in 2018 to Tokyo in 2021 to Beijing in 2022 will be successfully held as pandemic-free, safe and peaceful Games.”

Wang called for further cooperation to expand common interests and “more quickly, stably and fully” strengthen diplomatic ties, which next year marks their 30th anniversary.

The two sides held a separate meeting to take steps to promote cultural exchange, which has been scaled back in recent years amid China’s response to the US missile defense system installed in South Korea.

Seoul and Washington say the devices are designed to counter North Korean missiles, but Beijing argues the system’s powerful radar could penetrate its territory.

On Tuesday, the main nuclear negotiators from South Korea, the United States and Japan met in Tokyo, during which they agreed on the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy to resume denuclearization talks, according to South Korea’s foreign ministry. .

US envoy Sung Kim said during the meeting that Washington had no hostile intentions towards Pyongyang and hoped it would respond to offers for talks.

China, North Korea’s only major ally, has been instrumental in efforts to pressure North Korea to end its nuclear programs.

(Reporting by Hyonhei Shin; Editing by Michael Perry)

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