Presidents Park and Xi's message for North Korea Thursday was certainly a step up from last year's use of the phrase "grave threat" regarding the North's nuclear program.
"President Xi and I reaffirmed our firm opposition to nuclear arms development on the Korean peninsula."
"Denuclearization, peace and stability on the Korean peninsula would benefit all six-party talk nations and the participating members should achieve these through dialogue and negotiations."
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Highlighting the now-suspended six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Presidents Park and Xi added that the right conditions must be met before reviving the dialogue.
This reflects Seoul's position that Pyongyang first needs to show its commitment to denuclearize.
The Chinese leader also positively assessed President Park's policy of trust-building and having more humanitarian exchanges with North Korea to lay the foundation for a peaceful reunification.
As for Seoul-Beijing ties, the two leaders assessed their strategic cooperative partnership, and agreed to take it to the next level by holding regular political and security meetings and increasing people-to-people exchanges.
On the economic front, Presidents Park and Xi agreed to work toward concluding their free trade negotiations by the year's end, and to open their currency trade markets to spur bilateral trade and investments.
"Attention now shifts to how Pyongyang will react to Seoul and Beijing's firm opposition to its nuclear ambitions. While very cautious to criticize its traditional ally, experts suggest North Korea may turn away from China for now and focus on improving ties with Japan and Russia.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News."
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