Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly proposed to U.S. President Donald Trump that South and North Korea, China and the United States sign a peace treaty to replace the current armistice, presenting itself as another important variable in South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s already complex calculation of North Korea’s nuclear issue.
President Xi suggested a new frame for security (on the Korean Peninsula) including a peace treaty between China, the United States, and South and North Korea, during a phone conversation with President Trump on March 9, Kyodo News reported on Sunday. The conversation reportedly took place the day after Trump accepted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s proposal of holding a North Korea-U.S. talk. The Japan-based newspaper added that Trump did not give a definite answer to Xi’s request and asked Beijing to continue exerting pressure on Pyongyang.
President Xi appears to have conveyed his initiative of having four-party talks also in a meeting with Kim Jong Un. “China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in the issue of the peninsula and work together with all parties including the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to jointly promote the relaxation of the situation on the peninsula,” Xi reportedly noted.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who visited South Korea last Thursday, also shared with President Moon and South Korea’s National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong President Xi’s initiative about Beijing’s general role in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and settling peace.
The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has taken a positive stance on China’s involvement, but seemed cautious about Xi’s proposal of a four-party peace treaty. “We may need more time to review whether China has the rights of a party to the declaration of a war and a peace treaty,” said an official from Cheong Wa Dae, implying that the issue cannot be discussed until after the inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. talks take place at the earliest. “It is understood that state councilor Yang did not make a specific mention of the four-party peace treaty,” said another Cheong Wa Dae official. Still, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Xi ahead of a scheduled meeting with Trump, most observers believe that Beijing will make active efforts to seize the initiative on the North Korean issue towards denuclearization. Some speculate that a four-party talk between the two Koreas, the United States and China can follow the planned inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. summit meetings.
Meanwhile, President Trump mentioned the possible postponement of the implementation of the recently revised free trade agreement between Washington and Seoul on Thursday (local time). “Look at Korea. We have a border in Korea. We have a wall of soldiers. We don’t get paid very much for this, ” Trump said, in an apparent move to pressure the Moon administration in negotiating the North Korean issue.
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