China expressed pessimism about bringing the North Korean standoff to a peaceful resolution, even as Kim Jong Un’s regime touted new United Nations support for “regular” talks.
Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi said Saturday that “the outlook is not optimistic” on the Korean Peninsula and urged both sides to end what he said was a “vicious cycle” of confrontation. Wang’s remarks –– part of a broad foreign policy speech in Beijing –– came after North Korea said that a departing United Nations delegation had agreed to communications to help ease tensions.
Wang said there was still hope for a diplomatic solution and reiterated a Chinese proposal for both sides to build trust by suspending military drills and weapons tests. “The first step to pull the situation on the peninsula out of the current ‘black hole’ of confrontation is to create the conditions and atmosphere to restart dialogue,” Wang said.
The U.N.’s top official for political affairs, Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman, left North Korea Saturday after a visit that sought to ease tensions over the country’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. sent B-1B bombers to join aerial drills with South Korea after Kim tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that he said could reach the U.S. mainland
The U.N. visit was among efforts involving several countries to help facilitate talks between Kim’s regime and President Donald Trump. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that the visit contributed to a deeper understanding and that they agreed to communicate at “various levels.”
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said by email Saturday that the delegation had a “broad policy dialogue” in Pyongyang and that the body might have further comment later.
The U.S. has refused to consider negotiations while Kim tests increasingly powerful nuclear bombs and lobs missiles into the sea around Japan. In an interview Wednesday, Terry Branstad , the U.S. ambassador to China, said the Trump administration would be ready for talks if North Korea renounced further nuclear or missile tests.
Any U.N. mediation would require approval from the U.N. Security Council, on which the U.S. has veto power. The Security Council has called for the resumption of the so-called six-party talks, which included China, Japan, Russia and South Korea and broke off in 2009.
Trump has sought to pressure China to rein in its ally and neighbor before it acquires a nuclear arsenal advanced enough to deter a U.S. attack. Kim said the test showed that North Korea’s nuclear program was complete because it could deliver an atomic warhead anywhere in the U.S.