Published : 2013-01-21 19:18
Updated : 2013-01-21 19:18
BEIJING (Yonhap News) ― A delegation of special envoys appointed by South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye arrived in Beijing Monday on a four-day visit aimed at bolstering two-way cooperation over North Korea and other bilateral issues.
“We came to create an opportunity to build new trust (between South Korea and China),” Kim Moo-sung, the leader of the four-member delegation, told reporters after arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport.
Kim, a key manager of Park’s presidential campaign last year, was joined by Reps. Shim Yoon-joe and Cho Won-jin of Park’s ruling Saenuri Party and Han Seok-hee, a professor of international relations at Seoul’s Yonsei University. They met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi later in the day.
“With the (upcoming) launch of the Park Geun-hye administration (in South Korea) and the Xi Jinping administration in China, we have a good opportunity for fresh cooperation and stronger ties between our two countries,” Kim said.
Ahead of their visit, Park met with the delegation last Friday and asked them to discuss North Korea issues and South Korea’s growing ties with China in their meetings with the Chinese leadership.
“China must play an important role in leading North Korea to make the right choice and transform itself,” she said.
China’s cooperation is critical in getting the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for its launching of a long-range rocket last month that violated U.N. sanctions.
China, a key North Korean ally and a veto-wielding permanent member of the Council, has reportedly been reluctant to impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang due to concerns that they may destabilize the isolated nation, and harm the political and economic interests of Beijing.
Diplomatic sources, however, said China appeared to have reversed its stance and the Council could adopt a new resolution calling for tougher sanctions against North Korea sometime this week.
Despite the diplomatic tensions that have sometimes resulted from Beijing’s soft stance toward Pyongyang, Kim said he believed relations between South Korea and China were never bad.
“I don’t think ‘restoring’ (relations) would be the right way to put it. Think of it as an exchange aimed at making our relations even better than they are now,” he said.
Asked why Park sent a delegation to China before any other nation, Kim said, “From our point of view, it’s hard to say which is more important ― the United States or China. China is the country closest to us, with which we have frequent exchanges.”
On Wednesday, the delegation is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on China’s next leader Xi and deliver a personal letter from Park.
The visit had initially been planned for Tuesday, but the delegation left one day in advance for reasons that were not immediately known.