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Chinese premier: Dialogue key to North Korea denuclearization

By Elizabeth Shim
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said dialogue must take top priority in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Beijing on Saturday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said dialogue must take top priority in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Beijing on Saturday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

March 15 (UPI) -- China's second most powerful politician said Wednesday that North Korea's nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue among all concerned parties.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's remarks come a few days ahead of a visit from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who may bring up the issue of North Korea in meetings with Beijing's diplomats, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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Li told reporters China maintains a "clear" position that supports the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but all countries must return to dialogue to "solve the problem."

The Chinese premier's call for reconciliatory dialogue may be a necessary step for Beijing after it supported sanctions against South Korean businesses for Seoul's joint decision to deploy the U.S. missile defense system THAAD on the peninsula.

During his upcoming visit to China, Tillerson is expected to warn Beijing about U.S. plans to accelerate missile defenses, as well as place more pressure on Chinese banks with secondary sanctions, if the government does not do more to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported.

Tillerson is scheduled to visit China on Saturday and Sunday and may deliver a message that echoes U.S. President Donald Trump's statements on stopping North Korea from developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

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On Wednesday, Li said that while the United States and China have experienced "all kinds of difficulties" in the bilateral relation, the two sides must "keep moving forward, with an optimistic attitude."

The Chinese premier said the baseline of the relationship is the U.S. agreement to recognize and uphold Beijing's "One-China" policy and legitimacy.

Li said Trump has "supported the principle" and that it is an unchanging policy for China.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are to meet in April.

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