South Korea, China warn North Korea on nuclear test

Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his commitment to opposing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions during telephone talks with President Park Geun-hye, Wednesday, according to presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook.

Xi’s remarks came at a time when the North is thought to be preparing to carry out a fourth nuclear test later this month because of increased activities at a test site.

“Xi said that both Beijing and Seoul have the identical opinion of not condoning the North’s nuclear armament,” Min noted. “He said that reduced tensions on the Korean Peninsula would benefit Beijing and Seoul alike.”

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said earlier this week that it had detected heightened activity at the underground nuclear test site of Punggye-ri where the third test was conducted in early 2013.

The reclusive regime threatened last month that it would carry out a new type of nuclear test soon. Experts suspect that it might involve plutonium or the detonation of multiple devices.

Against this backdrop, Park asked Xi to dissuade Pyongyang from conducting the test, which she said would end up worsening security in Northeast Asia and stalling the six-party talks aimed at halting the North’s nuclear programs.

China is the only benefactor of North Korea, which depends on the former for grain and fuel.

In response, Xi said that Beijing was putting forth its utmost efforts.

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his commitment to a nuclear-free Korea Peninsula in an interview with a Japanese newspaper in Tokyo, which was printed Wednesday.

Toward that end, he stressed the significance of Washington’s trilateral alliance with Seoul and Tokyo despite the two Asian neighbors’ relations hitting a nadir of late due to Japanese’ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abrasive nationalism.

“The burden is on Pyongyang to take concrete steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, and the United States, Japan and South Korea are united in our goal — the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

He reiterated the U.S. stance of not admitting Pyongyang as a nuclear power, vowing to continue joint military drills and bolster missile defenses against threats from the North.

Denuclearization is also expected to be one of major issues during a summit between Obama and President Park Geun-hye slated for Friday in Seoul, the second leg of his eight-day Asian visit.

Obama may also seek to get Seoul and Tokyo to mend fences. He earlier took the unusual move of mediating between the two nations in organizing a three-way summit in The Hague last month.

After a two-day stay in Korea, his fourth as chief executive, Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines and Malaysia, rounding out a tour geared toward boosting support for the U.S. in the Asian region. By Kim Tae-gyu The korea times

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