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South Korea calls for China to increase its role in curbing North Korean arms tests

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called for China to play a “more active, constructive role” in reining in North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations, his office said on Tuesday, after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two leaders held their first face-to-face meeting, lasting 25 minutes, on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Bali amid tension over North Korean weapons tests.

Pyongyang tested a record number of missiles in 2022, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile, and fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea as South Korea and the U.S. staged a series of joint military drills.

Talking North Korea

The South Korean president expressed concern that the isolated country has escalated tension with an unprecedented pace of nuclear and missile provocations.

“I hope China will play a more active, constructive role as a member of the U.N. Security Council and a neighbour,” Mr Yoon was quoted as telling the Chinese leader.

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Xi Jinping, in response, called for better inter-Korean relations, saying he was willing to support Yoon Suk-yeol’s aid-for-denuclearisation offer if North Korea accepts the deal, Yoon’s office said.

However, Pyongyang criticised the offer calling it “nonsense” and said that the South Korean head of state should “shut his mouth”.

Talking economy

On the economy, Yoon and Xi agreed to speed up negotiations on the second phase of a bilateral free-trade agreement, according to the South Korean president’s office.

Beijing’s state media also reported that the Chinese leader displayed hopes for greater cooperation with South Korea in areas including high-tech manufacturing.

He promised to ensure “safe, stable and smooth global supply chains” but said he opposes the “politicisation of economic cooperation”, Chinese state media pointed out.

Chinese-South Korean relations

Bilateral relations have soured in recent years amid China’s protest against a U.S. missile defence system stationed in South Korea and an intensifying rivalry between Beijing and Washington.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who are attending the G20 summit in Bali, will hold their first official meeting on Tuesday afternoon. The two leaders will exchange in-depth views on bilateral relations and issues of common concern: FM

— Zhang Meifang张美芳 (@CGMeifangZhang) November 15, 2022

Yoon said he aims to foster regional and global freedom, peace and prosperity based on universal values and norms, asking Xi Jinping to support more active high-level talks to tackle complex challenges, Yoon’s office said.

Xi agreed on the need to boost bilateral dialogue and build political trust and said he would visit Seoul when his country’s COVID-19 situation stabilises.

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