China is expected to play an important role in bringing peace and security to the Korean Peninsula as China is a “key player” in the peninsula issues, South Korea’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the remarks at her press conference with foreign correspondents in Seoul, saying top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un’s visit to Beijing will contribute to realizing the shared goal of denuclearization on the peninsula and a lasting peace settlement. The DPRK leader arrived in Beijing Tuesday for his two-day visit. It was his third trip to China in just three months. “China has an important role to play on issues of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula,” said Kang. “China is a key player” in issues being unfolded on the peninsula, said the foreign minister who noted that South Korea and China are “moving in the same direction.”
Kang expected the DPRK leader’s dialogue in Beijing to contribute to realizing the shared goal of denuclearization and the establishment of lasting peace on the peninsula, saying the DPRK summit diplomacy started to build trust among relevant parties.
“We are watching closely to see the outcome of this latest move in Chairman Kim’s new-found diplomatic activism,” said the top South Korean diplomat. Détente emerged on the peninsula after the DPRK leader said in his New Year speech that he was willing to dispatch the DPRK delegation to the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics. After the winter sports event, Kim met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 in the truce village of Panmunjom, agreeing to complete denuclearization and improved inter-Korean relations. On June 12 in Singapore, Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump held the first-ever DPRK-U.S. summit.
Touching on the joint statement, which Kim and Trump signed, Kang said it was a good outcome as the complete denuclearization became a goal, which she believes Pyongyang would live up to. After the DPRK-U.S. summit, Trump said in Singapore that he would stop “provocative” war games between South Korea and the United States. The military authorities of Seoul and Washington announced the suspension earlier this week of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint annual military exercises slated for August.
The suspension was a “goodwill gesture to strengthen dialogue momentum” for denuclearization and peace regime on the peninsula, the South Korean foreign minister said. The Ulchi Freedom Guardian is an annually-held summertime war between South Korea and the United States. It is a computer-simulated command post exercise.
Kang said the DPRK’s closure of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where it conducted all of its six nuclear tests, was an important measure on the part of the DPRK, saying Pyongyang’s closure of its missile engine testing site will be in the irreversible and verifiable process. President Trump said the DPRK leader will dismantle its missile engine testing site without elaborating on schedules. The foreign minister said UN Security Council sanctions on the DPRK over its nuclear and missile tests would remain in place until it takes concrete action for complete denuclearization, but she expected the DPRK action to take place “sooner rather than later.” Declaring an end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, Kang said, was a “very important” part of the Panmunjom Declaration, which the leaders of the two Koreas signed after their April 27 summit in the border village of Panmunjom. Under the declaration, Moon and Kim agreed to change the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty by the end of this year. The peninsula remains technically at war as the Korean War ended with armistice. “Peace talks typically start” with the war-end declaration, said Kang who noted that South Korea will start such talks “as soon as possible” as peace negotiations toward peace treaty is a time-consuming process.