North Korea

China applauds ‘historic’ inter-Korea summit as big step towards long-term peace

Beijing says the leaders of North and South Korea showed political courage by meeting

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 11:27pm

China said the historic summit between the leaders of the two Koreas on Friday was a significant step towards ensuring long-term peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying gave the assessment after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had a private conversation for the first time.

“Disasters are never powerful enough to separate real brothers, and a smile is all they need to eliminate resentment,” Hua said.

“It is a historic moment for a North Korean leader to cross the border, and we give our positive affirmation to the political decision and courage of the two leaders.”

Kim crossed over to the southern side of the world’s most heavily armed border on Friday morning to meet Moon. The two leaders shook hands and inspected an honour guard before holding a closed-door discussion on nuclear issues.

Kim Jong-un offers to visit South Korea president Moon Jae-in’s official Seoul residence as historic summit continues

In early tweets from Washington, Trump praised the meeting even as he raised questions about how long the positive diplomacy would last.

“Good things are happening, but only time will tell!,” he tweeted, adding in another: “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”

Tensions over the Korean peninsula rose last year after Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, which prompted sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.

But those strains eased when Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to talks earlier this year. Kim is also expected to meet Trump in May or June.

Meanwhile, the White House released photos of Mike Pompeo, the newly confirmed US secretary of state, meeting Kim over the Easter weekend.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said Pompeo had not expected to meet Kim but their meeting ended up lasting more than an hour.

“It was more than a hello,” Trump said. “They got along ... It was very, very secret. Very, very quiet.”

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he “strongly” hoped Pyongyang would take concrete steps to carry out its promises to pursue denuclearisation.

“I will keep a close watch on North Korea’s future conduct,” Abe told reporters.

Asked if he was concerned that Japan might be left out of the denuclearisation process, Abe said, “Absolutely not. I talked with President Trump for more than 11 hours just a while ago and reached a complete agreement on our action, effort and basic policy.”

A top government spokesman said Tokyo wanted constructive discussions towards resolving various issues at the inter-Korean summit.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the issues should include the abductions of Japanese citizens, and nuclear and missile development.

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The Japanese government officially recognises 17 people as having been kidnapped by the North in the 1970s and 1980s. Five of them were returned in 2002, but North Korea insists eight have died and the other four never entered its territory.

In Moscow, the Kremlin hailed the summit as very positive news and said President Vladimir Putin had long advocated direct talks between the two countries.

Asked about the prospect of Trump also meeting the North Korean leader, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Moscow welcomed any steps that would ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Associated Press, Kyodo and Reuters