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Avoid Korean escalation, premier tells Obama
2016-09-23, ZHAO HUANXIN and ZHANG YUNBI

Premier Li Keqiang voiced Beijing’s opposition to the plan by Washington and Seoul to deploy an advanced missile-defense system in the Republic of Korea (ROK) while meeting with US President Barack Obama in New York.

Li said “it is hoped that all parties will avoid taking actions that lead to escalation of the tense situation”.

He and Obama met on the sidelines of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 19.

Earlier this year, Washington and Seoul agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, angering Beijing and Moscow. The system’s radar has a maximum reach of 2,000 kilometers and could cover parts of China and Russia.

Tension rose anew on the Korean Peninsula earlier this month after the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a nuclear test in an area near the China-DPRK border.

Li said China endorses the UN Security Council’s plan to further respond to the nuclear test by the DPRK. Beijing remains committed to denuclearization of the peninsula, ensuring peace and stability, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation, Li added.

A White House statement released later on Sept 19 said Obama and Li “resolved to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

Zhang Tuosheng, director of the research department at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said China should continue tackling two tasks simultaneously — counteracting the THAAD deployment plan while strengthening cooperation with the US and the ROK in boosting denuclearization of the peninsula.

“No efforts should be spared to resume the Six-Party Talks, and even if the resumption is unlikely, support should be given to other dialogues promoting peace on the peninsula and denuclearization,” Zhang said.

The Six-Party Talks involve China, the DPRK, the ROK, Japan, the US and Russia, and aim to find a peaceful solution to nuclear proliferation on the peninsula. However, the process has been stalled since 2009 when the DPRK pulled out of the talks.

Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher in international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said the DPRK nuclear tests and the US-ROK plan to deploy THAAD are “pushing the peninsula situation to a deadlock, which serves no interest of any party”.

The root cause of the nuclear issue is the mutual distrust between the US and the DPRK, and the only way out is to resume dialogue, Jia said.

During their talk, Li and Obama also touched upon bilateral trade and investment, as well as global issues including sustainable development, refugee crises and peacekeeping.

Contact the writers at zhaohuanxin@chinadaily.com.cn


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