The Korean Peninsula issue has finally taken an important step in the right direction, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference on the sidelines of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress on Thursday.
“To return the Peninsula to peace and stability and the nuclear issue to the track of dialogue, these initial steps must be followed up by corresponding and concerted efforts by the parties,” he added.
China calls on the parties, particularly the US and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), to engage in dialogue sooner rather than later, and encourages all to follow the dual-track approach of remaining committed to the goal of denuclearization and working actively to establish a peace mechanism on the Peninsula, the minister stated.
The parties’ legitimate security concerns, including those of the DPRK, can be addressed in exchange for and in tandem with progress towards denuclearization, said the minister.
During the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the DPRK did not conduct any nuclear test and the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) suspended their joint exercises targeting the DPRK, Wang said, noting that this proves that China’s “suspension for suspension” proposal was the right prescription for the problem and created basic conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations.
“History has reminded us time again that whenever tensions subsided on the Peninsula, the situation would be clouded by various interferences. Now is a crucial moment for testing the sincerity of the parties,” he pointed out.
It falls to all parties to bear in mind the imperative of peace and the well-being of people in the region, said the minister, calling on all to demonstrate political courage and make a political decision to expeditiously carry out all necessary and useful engagements, both bilateral and multilateral, and to do their best to restart dialogue and negotiation for the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue.
China’s suspension-for-suspension proposal, which was put forward in March, 2017 to defuse the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula, calls for the DPRK to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale US-ROK military exercises.
The DPRK and the ROK achieved a thaw in their relations since the beginning of this year by taking the opportunity of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, making the “suspension for suspension” proposal a reality in the past two months.
The DPRK’s top leader Kim Jong Un met with the special delegation sent by the ROK President Moon Jae-in during the latter’s two-day visit to Pyongyang starting from Monday.
According to the Blue House statement Tuesday, the DPRK expressed willingness to hold openhearted talks with the US side on denuclearization and normalized relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
They have also agreed to hold a summit between top leaders in late April at Peace House, a South Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom that straddles the two sides.
If held as agreed upon, it will be the third meeting between the top leaders of the two countries after 11 years, following the 2000 and 2007 meetings in Pyongyang between late DPRK top leader Kim Jong Il and former ROK Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun respectively.
By Zhao Cheng