China hopes US, N. Korea keep up denuclearization talks

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 07 2018 07:23 PM

BEIJING- China's foreign minister told his North Korean counterpart in Beijing on Friday that he hoped Pyongyang and Washington will maintain dialogue and stick to their denuclearization summit agreement.

Wang Yi met with North Korea's Ri Yong Ho as denuclearization talks have made little progress since a historic June summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

China is a key player in the diplomatic shuffle as it is North Korea's main diplomatic ally and trade partner.

"China and North Korea should continue to push the situation on the peninsula to develop positively towards denuclearization," said China's ministry of foreign affairs in a statement, citing comments from Wang.

"China hopes that the DPRK and the United States will maintain dialogue and balance their concerns and achieve the goals set by the DPRK-US Joint Statement," it said.

For his part, Ri said North Korea's "commitment to the denuclearization of the peninsula and the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula has not changed," the statement said.

Ri also met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"The international and regional situation, as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula, remains in flux, so timely exchanges and the coordination of positions between China and North Korea are still extremely essential," Xi said.

Talks on nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula between the US and North Korea have stalled in recent months, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions until its "final, fully verified denuclearization" and Pyongyang condemning US demands as "gangster-like."

In June, Trump and Kim opened up a face-to-face dialogue in Singapore after months of trading military threats and pointed barbs.

The two leaders signed a vaguely worded agreement on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but progress has since stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document.

North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Trump said Saturday he hoped to hold a second summit with Kim in early 2019. Xi and Trump discussed North Korea at the G20 summit in Argentina last weekend.

Ri's visit to Beijing marked his fifth meeting with Wang this year, as relations between China and North Korea have warmed following a chill.

Despite their Cold War-era alliance, China has supported a series of United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.