Ban Ki-moon arrives in China for high-level talks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 5:21pm

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for high-level talks with Chinese officials on North Korea, Syria and other issues, his spokesman said.

Ban will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and senior foreign policy officials during his stay, spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Ban “expects to discuss a wide range of matters pertaining to peace and security, such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Mali and Syria,” Nesirky said in an e-mail to AFP.

Ban will also meet China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Cabinet member Yang Jiechi, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying confirmed on Tuesday.

“The two sides will exchange views over international and internal issues of common interest,” she said.

“China’s position on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue is consistent and clear,” Hua said. “China is committed to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, as well as the settlement of the issue through dialogue and consultation.”

US President Barack Obama said China was taking a tougher line against North Korea’s nuclear program as he credited new President Xi Jinping with taking more responsibility in the world.

“We’ve seen the Chinese take more seriously the problem of constant provocation and statements from the North Koreans - rejecting the nuclearisation,” Obama said on The Charlie Rose Show broadcast on Monday.

UN diplomats also said that the worsening Syrian conflict and North Korea would top Ban’s list of discussion topics in Beijing.

“Ban has taken a hard line on Syria, where China has sided with Russia. But North Korea is also an urgent problem for everyone,” a UN Security Council diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The UN has spoken out against China’s treatment of North Korean refugees, but North Korea’s nuclear program is also a major UN concern.

China has sided with Russia three times in using a veto against Western-proposed UN Security Council resolutions that would increase pressure on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.