Beijing says it “feels happy” to see improved relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea after the two sides held high-profile talks. China called on the international community to lend its backing to such efforts.
The DPRK on Tuesday agreed to send a “high-ranking” delegation to participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in the ROK as officials of the two countries started their first high-level meeting in two years.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China hopes the talks will be a good beginning for the ROK and the DPRK to improve ties, promote reconciliation and cooperation, and reduce tensions.
Piao Jianyi, an expert from National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the talks went “surprisingly good and smooth” and people can look forward to improvement in the direction of the Korean Peninsula issue.
“Usually the proposal put forward by one side will be rejected by the other,” he said. “However, this time both sides have reached more consensus than before.”
Ri Son-gwon, head of a five-member DPRK delegation for Tuesday’s talks, said in his introductory remarks that he hoped to give a New Year’s gift to the people of the Korean Peninsula.
In response, the ROK’s unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, said he expects the Olympics to become a peace festival with “precious visitors” from the DPRK. He also said the inter-Korean dialogue had resumed after a long hiatus, calling on the DPRK to continue talks with a firm will and patience.
The DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary on Monday night that Kim Jong-un, top leader of the DPRK, “clarified a bold and compatriotic stand and proposal for improving inter-Korean relations in his New Year’s address.”
The DPRK’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an earlier commentary that Kim’s appeal for detente with Seoul has won overwhelming support at home and abroad.
Russia also welcomes dialogue between the DPRK and ROK, a Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday. “This is exactly the kind of dialogue that we said was necessary,” he said in a conference call.
However, Yoichi Takahashi, a professor at Tokyo-based Kaetsu University, said people should not pin their hopes on the talks because the DPRK may not stop nuclear and missile tests, and the potentially explosive tension on the peninsula has not eased.
Piao also said it is hard to predict whether optimism will remain for the future, especially considering that half of the government in Seoul is conservative, and holds a hostile attitude toward the DPRK. “And we can’t ignore the role the United States is playing.”
Xinhua contributed to this story.
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