S. Korea, China agree cooperation to deter N. Korea's nuke ambitions

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministers of South Korea and China on Monday agreed to strengthen cooperation in curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions as they remained "resolutely" opposed to a possible nuclear test by the regime, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to discuss an array of issues such as North Korea's nuclear program and the timing of the Chinese President's visit to Korea.

The Chinese foreign minister arrived in Seoul earlier in the day for a two-day visit.

The foreign ministry said that the two countries agreed to beef up cooperation on deterring North Korea's nuclear threats at the bilateral and multilateral levels as they are resolutely opposed to another test.

"The two sides shared the view that it is urgent to resume meaningful talks to make tangible progress toward North Korea's denuclearization and curb Pyongyang's move to advance its nuclear capacity," Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Under the principle of zero tolerance toward North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the two countries agreed to make efforts to create the necessary atmosphere to resume the talks, it noted.

North Korea has threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test in anger over the United Nations' condemnation of its ballistic missile launches in March.

North Korea's chief nuclear envoy Ri Yong-ho held an informal meeting with U.S. experts in Mongolia on Friday, a move seen as a possible effort to resume the stalled six party talks on curbing North Korea's nuclear program.

The six-party forum, which includes the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, has been dormant since late 2008.

Since North Korea's third nuclear test in February last year, Pyongyang has expressed its willingness to resume the six-party forum "without preconditions," but Seoul and Washington have insisted that North Korea must first show its sincerity toward denuclearization.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and February 2013, drawing condemnation from the international community and tightened U.N. sanctions.

China is North Korea's key ally and economic benefactor, but has become more frustrated with Pyongyang as a series of provocations by North Korea have heightened tensions in the region.

Asked about his views on a possible resumption of the six-party talks before his meeting with Yun, Wang said that "(relevant countries) for the six-party talks need to make efforts together."

Seoul is seeking to bring forward Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the first half of this year so that it can be used as an opportunity to deliver a message to North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions, it said.

The Korean government said that the two ministers shared the view that President Xi's envisioned visit will serve as a milestone for a strategic partnership between Seoul and Beijing. The foreign ministry said President Xi will visit Seoul "in the near future," without commenting on the timing.

Wang paid a visit to President Park Geun-hye later in the day and delivered greetings from the Chinese president, saying Park has a lot of "fans" in China. He also offered condolences over the tragic sinking of the ferry Sewol.

Park thanked China for expressing sympathy over the ferry disaster. She also said South Korea is firmly opposed to all terrorism in reference to a recent bombing in the northwest Chinese city of Urumqi.

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