(2nd LD) Yoon says N.K. issue should not be ‘obstacle’ in S. Korea-China ties

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Thursday he hopes the North Korean nuclear issue will not be an “obstacle” in relations between South Korea and China, as he asked Beijing to play a responsible role, according to his office.

Yoon made the remark during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, saying that the worse the North Korean nuclear problem becomes, the stronger trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan will have to be, Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo told reporters.

“Let us cooperate to build a rules-based international order, which is the basis for the multilateralism and free trade order that South Korea and China support,” Yoon was quoted as saying. “I ask China to fulfill its responsibility and role as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Let us cooperate to ensure North Korea does not become an obstacle in the development of South Korea-China relations.”

Yoon also asked for China’s cooperation in making a South Korea-Japan-China summit possible at an early date, and the Chinese side answered they will actively respond, Kim said.

As the current chair of the trilateral summit, South Korea has been pushing to host the next meeting before the end of the year. The summit has not been held since 2019 due to historical disputes between Seoul and Tokyo, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Yoon-Li meeting came as both leaders were in Jakarta to attend annual summits involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Yoon asked that Li relay his warm regards to Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying he hopes to see active senior-level exchanges between the two nations following their summit on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.

Li delivered Xi’s regards to Yoon, saying if South Korea and China cooperate and get along as close neighbors, their relationship will become more valuable.

“Let’s seek a new relationship based on the principle of friendly relations,” Kim quoted Li as saying. “In so doing, let us have South Korea and China enhance our common interests, consider each other’s issues of interest and strengthen our mature relationship of trust.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency