Kerry in Seoul to discuss tensions

Updated: 2013-04-13 01:36

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

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Experts say Washington's moves reflect hopes to prevent conflict

Kerry in Seoul to discuss tensions

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Seoul on Friday for the first stop of his Asia tour, which includes visits to China and Japan. Paul J. Richards / Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will "not be accepted as a nuclear power", but he also held out the possibility of dialogue.

Kerry arrived in Seoul on Friday to kick off his first trip to Asia after taking office, a trip that analysts said is aimed at coordinating diplomacy to handle the spiraling tension on the Korean Peninsula.

He met Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se earlier in the day.

Kerry said the DPRK's rhetoric is "unacceptable by any standard", and said it should be emphasizing "the possibilities of peace".

The DPRK has declared "a state of war" with the ROK and threatened to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike in self-defense.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday urged the DPRK to end its "belligerent approach", but he also stressed: "Nobody wants to see a conflict on the peninsula."

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said Washington's recent decisions, including to delay a missile test, shows it is trying to present a positive posture to prevent the outbreak of a major conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

But "after the current crisis comes to an end, a new balance will be achieved in Northeast Asia, and Washington's enhanced military deployment in the region will exert an enduring negative influence on China's defense circumstances," Shi said.

Park told a dinner meeting with ruling party lawmakers on Thursday that her administration will push for dialogue with the DPRK, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Seoul on Friday reaffirmed its call on the DPRK to come to the dialogue table, according to Kim Hyung-seok, spokesman of the Ministry of Unification.

Park's remark was not a formal dialogue suggestion as there was no time and place arranged in advance with the DPRK, but Kim stressed that it was an "effective dialogue proposal" to Pyongyang.

Shi Yuanhua, director of Center for Korean Studies under the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University in Shanghai, said the tension may continue in the near future, but the peninsula situation in recent days has shown signs of a potential "turnaround".

"The final resolution of the peninsular denuclearization issue, however, depends on the restart of the Six-Party Talks," Shi said.

As the second leg of his four-day Asia trip, Kerry will fly to Beijing on Saturday. Tokyo will be his third and final stop.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday that China has maintained close communication with relevant parties to help ease tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Beijing urges everyone to remain calm and restrained, "rather than act provocatively or increase tensions", Hong said.

Yang Bojiang, a researcher on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the latest tension has seen "some subtle changes" in recent days.

"Tokyo, Seoul and Washington have not included a war as their own goal" when handling the current crisis, but if there are further misjudgments and miscalculations, minor incidents may occur, he said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.