Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday said he was optimistic about the chances of reaching a new understanding with the United States on re-engaging North Korea about its nuclear weapons work, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"I am confident that we will be able to reach a new, important agreement" on how to reinvigorate paralyzed multinational talks on North Korea's nuclear arms, Wang said at a Washington press briefing ahead of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
As the host of the six-nation talks, China has been a big proponent of resuming the aid-for-denuclearization negotiations that were last held in December 2008. The discussions include Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.
Earlier this week, North Korea's senior nuclear negotiator at a conference in Beijing said Pyongyang was prepared to return to the nuclear talks if there were no preconditions.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday said there had been no alteration in Washington's longstanding demand that North Korea first concretely show its commitment to denuclearization before negotiations are resumed.
"Our position on this hasn't changed," department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. "We've said that the onus is on North Korea to take meaningful actions toward denuclearization." Her remarks suggested there had no quick headway achieved during the meeting with Wang.
Meanwhile, a new expert study is recommending Beijing and Washington contemplate establishing a separating boundary that establishes spheres of Chinese and U.S. interest in North Korea in the aftermath of a possible collapse of the Kim Jong Un regime, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.
Should the regime implode, it is highly likely that South Korea and the United States would enter the North in order to secure the country's unconventional weapons, among other reasons. The Chinese military might also intervene in order to prevent a mass wave of North Korean refugees fleeing into China, creating the potential for a showdown between allied U.S. and South Korean forces and Chinese troops, concludes the study by the research think-tank RAND Corp.