In the News – China promises to try to dissuade N. Korea from rocket launch: official
SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) — China promised Monday to keep trying to dissuade North Korea from its planned long-range rocket launch, expressing “deep concern” that the move could have negative effects on peace on the Korean Peninsula and efforts to resume six-party nuclear talks, an official said.
Chinese officials made the remarks during summit talks between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu was in Seoul to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, a global anti-nuclear terrorism conference set to open later Monday.
“Expressing deep concern, the Chinese leadership said it is urging North Korea to give up the satellite launch and focus on development of the lives of ordinary people,” Kim Tae-hyo, a senior presidential security official, told reporters during a briefing on the summit.
The Chinese side has tried to contact North Korea many times on the issue and already conveyed concern to Pyongyang, Kim said.
It is rare for China to take such a clear-cut position on a North Korean provocation.
Beijing, one of the veto-holding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, is Pyongyang’s last-remaining major ally and main aid provider. China has a track record of trying to protect Pyongyang despite international criticism that it is too soft on the North.
North Korea announced it will launch what it says is a satellite-carrying rocket next month, a claim widely seen as a pretext that Pyongyang has long used to disguise ballistic missile tests banned under a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Military officials in Seoul said Sunday that North Korea is believed to have moved a long-range rocket to the launch site in Dongchang-ri in the country’s northwest for final preparations for the threatened liftoff set for between April 12 and 16.
During Monday’s summit, South Korea and China shared an understanding that the planned rocket launch could have adverse effects on peace on the Korean Peninsula and efforts to restart the Chinese-hosted six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear programs, Kim said.
Kim said that the two sides also agreed to resume working-level talks on demarcating exclusive economic zones in waters between the two countries, a move aimed at defusing a row over control of Ieodo, a submerged rock outcrop off South Korea’s southern island of Jeju.
They also agreed to resume negotiations on a bilateral free trade pact at an early date, he said.
Additionally, the sides agreed to work out the issue of North Korean defectors closely and smoothly, with China trying to understand South Korea’s position on the matter, and South Korea trying to take China’s position into consideration, Kim said.