Park to meet with special Chinese envoy for talks on bilateral relations, N. Korea
Published : 2013-01-10 09:23
Updated : 2013-01-10 09:23
South Korea's incoming President Park Geun-hye was to meet with a special Chinese envoy Thursday as Seoul has been struggling to convince Beijing to get tough on North Korea over its long-range rocket launch last month.
The issue of North Korea is likely to come up, even at least briefly, in Park's talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, though the meeting is expected to be largely a courtesy call where both sides pledge close cooperation after she takes office next month.
Zhang arrived in Seoul on Wednesday.
Their meeting comes as South Korea's efforts to get the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for its Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket have been in limbo due apparently to opposition from Beijing, one of the five veto-holding permanent members of the council.
China, the last-remaining major ally of North Korea, has been reluctant to get tough on North Korea over concern that pushing Pyongyang too hard could cause instability in the neighboring communist nation and hurt its economic and political interests.
Relations between Seoul and Beijing have made strides since they forged diplomatic ties in 1992, with China overtaking the United States as South Korea's No. 1 trading partner. But disagreement over how to deal with North Korea has often weighed on their ties.
The North's rocket launch succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit, a global security surprise that showed the provocative nation is closer to developing intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons as far as the United States.
Seoul, Washington and others have condemned the rocket launch as a disguised test of missile technology that is banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions. But Pyongyang has claimed it was part of a peaceful space program.
Thursday's meeting will be the second time Park meets with a special envoy from the "four powers," countries considered the most important to South Korea -- the United States, China, Japan and Russia -- since her Dec. 19 election.
Last week, she met with special envoys of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is scheduled to make a two-day visit to Seoul next week as head of an inter-agency team of senior officials. The American diplomat could also pay a visit to Park, though there has been no announcement on that yet. (Yonhap News)