News24

S Korea, China in talks after Kim's death

2011-12-27 10:31

Seoul - Senior South Korean and Chinese officials held talks on Tuesday to discuss the aftermath of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and its impact on regional security.

China is the sole major ally and economic prop of the impoverished but nuclear-armed North, and is seen as one of the few countries which can influence its behaviour.

South Korean vice foreign minister Park Suk-Hwan called the previously scheduled talks timely "when security conditions on the Korean peninsula have been in focus since the passing of Kim Jong-Il".

Maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula is in the interests of both South Korea and China, Park said in opening remarks.

World powers are watching the nuclear-armed North after longtime leader Kim died on December 17 and his son Kim Jong-Un was proclaimed as "great successor".

Beijing threw its backing behind Jong-Un hours after the announcement of Kim's death and pledged to work with the North to ensure peace and stability.

Park's counterpart Zhang Zhijun did not directly mention North Korea.

But according to translated comments, he called for closer communication with Seoul to address the "dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region" that were becoming "complicated and serious".

China chairs long-stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear disarmament which also involve the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan.

Negotiations to revive the forum, which has been at a standstill since the last meeting in December 2008, appeared to be making progress before Kim's death.

Media reports said Pyongyang would agree to suspend its disputed uranium enrichment programme in return for food aid from Washington.