Roh, Hu call for multilateral nuke talks
BEIJING - The leaders of South Korea and China pledged to push for an early resumption of multilateral talks to end North Korea's nuclear standoff in their summit here on Monday.
President Roh Moo-hyun and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, however, papered over the key issue of whether the talks, which initially involved Pyongyang, Washington and Beijing, will be expanded to include South Korea, Japan and Russia.
"President Hu Jintao and I agreed that talks among concerned parties should be resumed at an early date to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue," Roh said in a joint press conference after the nearly two-hour summit at the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square.
Roh arrived in the Chinese capital earlier in the day for a four-day state visit.
Hu reaffirmed China's position that the Korean Peninsula should remain nuclear-free and the current standoff should be resolved peacefully.
"But at the same time, North Korea's concern about its security should also be earnestly considered," he said.
North Korea demands a U.S. guarantee of its security and economic assistance. But Washington calls for the North to give up its nuclear ambitions first for that to occur.
In April, China hosted the trilateral talks to resolve the nine-month nuclear standoff between North Korea and the United States.
The United States wants a second round of nuclear talks to include South Korea and Japan. The North opposes it, insisting on direct talks with the United States.
During the summit, Roh raised the need for more countries to take part in the next round of nuclear talks, but the issue was not discussed earnestly, Seoul officials said.
Indicating their disparity on crucial issues, the two leaders didn't issue a joint statement despite several rounds of intensive coordination between working-level officials before the summit.
Ra Jong-yil, Roh's national security adviser, said the two sides are still working on details of a statement.
"Cabinet ministers will continue to have discussions during the president's stay in China," he said.
Roh requested Hu to persuade the North to give up its nuclear ambitions and to refrain from any actions that would aggravate current tensions.
Roh also expressed his gratitude for China's constructive and active role in mediating negotiations between North Korea and the United States, Ra said.
"The two leaders concurred that concerned parties should make efforts to maintain the momentum for dialogue created through the three-way talks in Beijing," he added.
During the summit, Roh also explained about his new engagement policy toward North Korea and his long-term diplomatic vision for promoting peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia.
Hu confirmed China's long-standing support for Seoul's peace efforts.
The two leaders also pledged to further enhance bilateral ties, declaring a "comprehensive, cooperative partnership."
Both praised the development of the economic and trade relationship between the two nations since they established diplomatic ties in 1992.
Bilateral trade has been sharply growing at an annual rate of more than 20 percent, exceeding billion last year. China is Korea's second-largest investment destination.
They pledged to boost their bilateral trade and diversify the areas of mutual cooperation setting a target of 0 billion in trade volume within the next five years.
The two sides reached an accord on 10 cooperative projects in such areas as information technology, environment, finance, retail, energy and natural resources.
Roh also requested that China allow Korean firms to participate in large-scale development projects in its western regions.
After the summit, the two leaders attended a ceremony to sign three bilateral agreements for cooperation on judicial affairs, industrial standardization and engineering technology.
Roh also pledged Seoul's cooperation for China's successful hosting of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. Hu accepted Roh's invitation to visit South Korea soon, Ra said.
Roh is scheduled to meet today with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and parliamentary leader Wu Bangguo. He will make speeches at separate meetings with China's business leaders and Koreans living in China. He will fly to Shanghai Wednesday.
By Hwang Jang-jin Korea Herald correspondent (email@example.com)
(KOREA HERALD, July 08, 2003)
Posted on 2003-07-08