June 22, 2023
SEOUL – South Korea and the United States said Wednesday the two allies will continue openly calling on China to back their efforts to denuclearize North Korea, following Washington’s briefing in Seoul about its latest talks with Beijing.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Monday to stabilize their relations to prevent further conflict, during Blinken’s two-day trip to Beijing that started a day earlier. Such a meeting last took place five years ago.
At Wednesday’s briefing with Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Yong-sam, Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant US secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the US and China discussed Beijing’s influence over North Korea in facilitating denuclearization as a permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry in Seoul.
Disarmament as well as stopping Pyongyang’s aggression are in the common interests of China and the international community, Choi said in the statement, stressing that Seoul and Washington will continue to ask China to play a “constructive role.”
North Korea is defying UN sanctions prompted by its nuclear and missile programs, with China and Russia having blocked recent US-led attempts within the UNSC to sanction the North for its repeated provocations.
At a key party meeting over the weekend, Pyongyang vowed to push ahead with what it says is a plan to launch a military reconnaissance satellite, after its failed first test last month. Seoul, Washington and others in the international community suspect it to be a cover for ballistic missile tests, as they use the same technology.
Satellites are needed for surveillance purposes, according to the North, which says it wants to closely monitor US military activities.
In a separate statement released by the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, Kritenbrink also met with First Vice Foreign Minister Chang-ho Jin the same day. The two agreed to closely work on advancing ties with China, a country that had recently been at odds with not only the US, but also South Korea.
Since the Yoon administration last year announced a new foreign policy potentially favoring the US over China, Seoul-Beijing ties have been rocky.
In the last two weeks, their relations soured further, with the two countries having called in each other’s top envoy in a tit-for-tat spat over the Chinese ambassador’s public warning against the South on making a “wrong bet” on China losing out to the US.
South Korea will continue working on healthy and mature ties with China that respect reciprocity, Deputy Foreign Minister Choi said.