China's help played a key role in defusing an escalation between North and South Korea last week, South Korean President Park Geun Hye says. The comments came during a visit to the Chinese capital.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye met with Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday in Beijing, with the agenda to include the "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," according to her spokesperson.
The meeting comes amid diplomatic efforts to resume the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
Park told Xi she appreciated China's help in defusing tension with North Korea that had pushed the neighbors to the brink of conflict.
The deal "showcases how important it is to have strategic cooperations between South Korea and China for...regional peace," she said.
Meanwhile, Park's Chinese counterpart called for the resumption of multilateral talks, which have stalled since 2008.
"China has all along upheld the aim of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, the maintaining of the peninsula's peace and stability and resolving issues via dialogue and consultations," Xi said, according to China's Foreign Ministry. China "opposes any actions which may cause tensions" and all sides should "work hard to resume talks," he added.
During her visit, Park will also attend a military parade with Xi in Tiananmen Square to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Thursday, her presidential office said.
Observers noted that Park's visit to China, historically the North's only diplomatic ally, contrasted with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's decision to send a representative to Thursday's parade rather than to attend it himself. Kim Jong Un has not yet met Xi since he took power in 2011. It is not yet clear whether the North Korean envoy will meet with President Park while in Beijing this week.
China, the world's largest exporter, is now South Korea's biggest trading partner. South Korea is one of the few developed countries that runs a surplus with China.
dr/kms (dpa, Reuters)