Chinese leader calls for ‘smooth’ Kim-Trump talks

A South Korean soldier walks past a television screen showing pictures of US President Donald Trump (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul on March 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2018
0

Chinese leader calls for ‘smooth’ Kim-Trump talks

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes “smooth” talks between North Korea’s leader and the presidents of the United States and South Korea can produce progress toward Pyongyang’s denuclearization, according to state media.
Xi made the remarks during a meeting Monday with South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who was in Beijing to brief Chinese leaders about his meetings with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump last week.
Kim has agreed to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in late April in the Demilitarized Zone, while Trump and the North Korean leader could meet by the end of May.
“We expect a smooth DPRK-ROK summit and DPRK-US dialogue,” Xi said, using the acronyms for North Korea and South Korea, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Xi voiced hope that the talks will lead to “substantial progress” in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and toward the normalization of relations between the countries involved.
The peninsula faces “an important opportunity for easing tension” and all sides should be “patient and cautious,” the Chinese leader said.
Xi said China is willing to work with the international community to promote Beijing’s “dual-track approach” along with “helpful proposals from all sides.”
China has called for a dual framework of committing to denuclearization while establishing a peace mechanism. It has also proposed a “suspension-for-suspension” plan in which the United States, South Korea and Japan freeze military drills in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests.
“As long as all parties can focus on the fundamental goal of denuclearization, peace and stability, the Korean peninsula will finally usher in the spring, when ice will thaw and flowers will bloom,” Xi said.
For his part, Chung thanked Xi for his “big role” in the diplomatic process that led to the “very positive changes.”
Beijing has played a key role in implementing UN sanctions on the North, which are believed to have put immense pressure on the country’s fragile economy.
China is North Korea’s only diplomatic ally and its most important trade partner.
Still, some in China are afraid the country, which hosted failed six-nation talks on the nuclear issue a decade ago, could be cut out of negotiations on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
While Chung briefed Xi, South Korea sent the head of its National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, to Japan to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe, a hawk on North Korea who also has tense relations with the South’s Moon, promised Tuesday to cooperate with Seoul as it embarks on the bilateral summit talks.
He reiterated that Japan also felt passionate about resolving the issue of the abductions of its citizens by Pyongyang.
North Korean agents kidnapped a number of ordinary Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to train its spies in the Japanese language and culture.
“With Japan, South Korea and the United States closely cooperating, I wish to put all my strength toward resolution of the nuclear issue, the missile issue and the abduction issue,” Abe said.


Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

Updated 15 December 2018
0

Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

  • Trilateral talks also focused on boosting trust and security between the three countries
  • FM Qureshi extends the olive branch for a new chapter with Kabul

KABUL: Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China held a trilateral meeting in Kabul on Saturday where they discussed measures to boost political trust and join hands for a regional war against militancy which would facilitate the Afghan peace process, even as Taliban insurgents stepped up their attacks.

The meeting was the second one to take place after Beijing had initiated the talks in December last year in order to ease the rising tension between Kabul and Islamabad whose relationship is highly critical for Beijing’s growing economic and political clout in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In recent years, China has deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan and is actively using its influence to bring the two South Asian neighbors closer.

Pakistan has long been accused by Afghanistan and the US of providing safe havens for Afghan Taliban leaders, by funding and arming them since their ouster in late 2001.

Islamabad has denied the allegations.

After the meeting on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi pushed for a new chapter with Afghanistan, adding that the ongoing blame game would not help in achieving peace or building trust between Islamabad and Kabul.

He said that the Daesh and militants from Central Asia and eastern China were against the peace process in Afghanistan, urging for joint efforts to tackle the extremism.

“I am here to engage with Afghanistan. Let us not stick to the past and stop pointing a finger on Pakistan… I came here to build trust and bridges and reach peace and stability. Any improvement in Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan,” Qureshi told a news conference.

The three countries signed an agreement pushing for joint efforts in the war against militancy with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, saying that the coming weeks and months will be highly crucial in evaluating Pakistan’s intentions and its role in supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Officials from both Afghanistan and Pakistan have held a number of meetings in recent years to mend bilateral ties and work towards measures to fight militancy. However, those talks were an exercise in futility as they were followed by the two countries trading accusations and resorting to the blame game. Rabbani said that “the time has come (for Pakistan) to practically show with genuine steps” that it will fulfill its pledges.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described both Afghanistan and Pakistan as its strategic partners, adding that China had great political trust in the two. He asked both the countries to resolve their problems in a peaceful manner and backed the US’ efforts to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, urging the militant group to get involved in the process. 

“We support Afghanistan and Pakistan’s efforts for peace and we call on the Taliban to join the peace process. Cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China is important to bring peace to Afghanistan.” 

The three sides emphasized the importance of regional connectivity and economic development between them. 

Saturday’s meeting took place at a time when Washington is stepping up its efforts to hold talks with the Taliban by meeting with regional powers on how to end the US war in Afghanistan which began more than 17 years ago.

Mohammad Nateqi, a former Afghan diplomat, said that a deciding factor for Saturday’s agreement to work depended on building mutual trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan given the fact that similar conversations have taken place between Kabul and Islamabad earlier as well, without bearing any fruit.

However, at the same time, he was optimistic about positive results, reasoning that the situation had changed when compared to the past with the US increasing its efforts for talks with the Taliban.

“Such meetings can be helpful in mending ties between the countries and in helping them come closer to achieving a peace plan,” he told Arab News.