China claims credit for N Korea talks

Minister Wang Yi says China has created conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations.
Minister Wang Yi says China has created conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations.

China says its proposal urging South Korea and the US to suspend joint military drills in exchange for North Korea stopping their nuclear tests, played a key role in the rapprochement between the two Koreas.

"Recent developments may seem baffling to some people but are actually within the bounds of reason," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a press conference on Thursday.

"During the Pyeongchang Olympics the DPRK (North Korea) did not conduct any nuclear test and the US and ROK (South Korea) suspended joint exercises ... proving that China's proposition of suspension for suspension was right for the problem."

The double suspension "has created basic conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations," he said regarding the summit in April between leaders of the two Koreas.

On Tuesday, the South Korean government announced President Moon Jae In and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet. It will be just the third time in history that the countries' leaders have met.

Wang said China "fully commends and supports" the steps taken by the two countries and calls on the US and North Korea "to engage in dialogue sooner rather than later" and move to set up a peace-establishing mechanism.

"Despite the light at the end of the tunnel the journey ahead will not be smooth," he stressed.

"Now is a crucial moment for testing the sincerity of the parties," who must show political courage to restart dialogue for the peaceful settlement of nuclear issue, Wang said.

South Korean senior officials left for the US on Thursday to brief US President Donald Trump and his staff, likely to include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, on the outcomes of their recent trip to North Korea.

The South Korean delegation also said they would convey an "additional" undisclosed message from the North Korean regime to Washington.

Australian Associated Press