China tells Trump to stay calm over North Korea threat to cancel nuclear summit
Cool heads needed to avoid previous diplomatic failures to bring peace to the Korean peninsula, says China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi
China’s foreign minister has called for the United States to respond calmly to threats by North Korea to pull out of a summit between the two countries’ leaders.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said issues surrounding the Korean peninsula situation must be handled with care to avoid the diplomatic failures of the past.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump are due to meet in Singapore next month to discuss reining in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.
But North Korea cancelled talks with the South this week and said it might not attend the Singapore talks after it was angered by military exercises conducted by the American and South Korean militaries.
Wang Yi, who is on official visit to Paris, said on Wednesday “all parties, especially the United States, should cherish this opportunity for peace and should not work as a barrier”.
“Measures that North Korea has taken to ease tension on the Korean peninsula should be acknowledged,” Wang added.
“To solve this problem, it’s necessary for the two parties to work towards the same direction, not the opposite. What I would like to emphasise is that the current eased situation on the peninsula issue has been hard won,” he said.
The prospect of a Trump-Kim summit had raised hopes of a deal to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.
North Korea said over the weekend that it would dismantle its nuclear test site, with a formal ceremony scheduled to take place between May 23 and May 25 in front of invited foreign media.
John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, said on Wednesday he thought the summit was likely to happen despite Pyongyang’s threats.
However, he expressed concerns over whether Kim would agree to the Washington’s definition of what denuclearisation means.
“If they haven’t made a strategic decision that they are safer without nuclear weapons … as President Trump said, it could be a pretty short meeting in Singapore,” Bolton said in a radio interview.
Trump told reporters earlier on Wednesday it was still unclear if the summit would take place.
“We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything,” he said.
Boo Seung-chan, a research fellow at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, said it was in Beijing and Pyongyang’s interests to work together ahead of the Trump-Kim summit.
“Whilst Beijing wants a stronger influence over the Korean peninsula through Pyongyang, Pyongyang wishes to build up its leverage through Beijing ahead of the Trump-Kim summit,” said Boo. “In this way, the interests of the two countries are converging. Bilateral cooperation, including economic, may strengthen in the short-term.”