North Korea nuclear crisis

Ex-Chinese North Korea envoy optimistic nuclear stand-off can be resolved

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 2:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 2:28pm

China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, says he is cautiously optimistic that a diplomatic solution can be found to stop North Korea from developing further nuclear weaponry.

Liu, who was China’s ambassador to North Korea for more than three years, said that his government had done everything it could to persuade the country to halt its nuclear programme. He spoke in a television interview with ITV.

“I am still cautiously optimistic,” Liu said in the interview that was broadcast on Sunday. “I still believe that if all parties engage with each other and we encourage North Korea to return to the negotiating table, we can still find a diplomatic solution to this problem.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping sent Song Tao, head of the Communist Party’s international liaison department, to North Korea at the end of last week after hosting US President Donald Trump, stoking speculation that Song may carry a message from the Xi-Trump talks.

Song went to the mausoleum of former North Korean leaders in Pyongyang on Monday, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

Song toured the mausoleum’s exhibition rooms containing medals and vehicles used by former leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il and left a message in a guest book there that reads, “I express heartfelt longing for Comrade Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il who were great leaders of the Korean people and friends of China,” according to the report.

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Song laid flowers on Sunday at a tower in Pyongyang and went to Hoechang county where Chinese military forces were headquartered during the 1950 to 1953 Korean war.

Liu said on Sunday that North Korea had legitimate concerns about trust and security and blamed South Korea’s close relationship with the US as the “cause” of the problem. While China “strictly abides” by United Nations sanctions against North Korea, resolutions must also be about negotiations, he told ITV.