China and South Korea agreed yesterday to push for the removal of nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula through six-party talks, President Xi Jinping said at a summit meeting with South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye.
"We, on both sides, consistently agree to continue to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and firmly protect peace and stability on the peninsula," Xi said at a joint appearance with Park, who arrived in Beijing for a four-day visit.
Park said: "We have agreed that under any circumstances, North Korea's nuclear [weapons] are unacceptable and confirmed that the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is of common interest for the two countries."
In a statement released later, the two leaders said they had agreed to strive for an early resumption of the six-party talks. The other four countries involved in the talks, which have been stalled for more than four years, are the United States, Russia, North Korea and Japan.
Although Park was accompanied by a large business delegation, Pyongyang's nuclear programme is widely believed to have dominated the talks.
Professor Lin Xiaoguang , a specialist in international relations at the Central Party School, said the interests of the six parties varied, but those of South Korea and China were "heading in the same direction - denuclearising North Korea with peaceful talks, and that has become the common ground for the two countries".
Mainland experts on international relations say Park's foreign policy is distinctly different from that of predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who leaned more heavily on Washington. Park took office in February amid threats of war by North Korea. Xi became president in March.
Park was called "an old friend of the Chinese people" by Xi during the meeting.
Professor Liu Jiangyong , of Tsinghua University, said Park was "much more calm and restrained than Lee in handling North Korea nuclear issues, which would push North Korean denuclearisation in the right direction".
Lin said Pyongyang would see Park's visit and her good relationship with China as pressure on North Korea. Xi has backed tougher economic sanctions against Beijing's traditional ally.
China and South Korea signed agreements in various fields, including energy, trade, technology and oceanic co-operation. China is now South Korea's biggest trading partner.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters