China and Germany want dialogue with North Korea to continue, Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel have said in Beijing.
The U.S. and North Korea have each said they could call off a historic summit between their leaders, planned for June, but Keqiang and Merkel appealed to them to continue talks.
Ms Merkel said she hoped for denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula and that she had seen “very hopeful things recently.”
Mr Keqiang said it was important to resolve the issues through peaceful dialogue.
The U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would know next week whether his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un would take place on June 12 in Singapore as scheduled, casting further doubt on plans for the unprecedented meeting.
White House aides are preparing to travel to Singapore this weekend for a crucial meeting with North Korean officials to discuss the agenda and logistics for the summit, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Visiting Washington, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that if the U.S. seeks peace with North Korea and wants to make history, “now is the time” for the two countries’ leaders to hold their first-ever summit.
The U.S. delegation, which includes White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Joseph Hagin and Deputy National Security Adviser, Mira Ricardel, was being dispatched after Trump said on Tuesday there was a “substantial chance” the summit would be called off amid concerns Pyongyang is not prepared to give up its nuclear arsenal.
Mr Trump did not say, however, whether the preparatory talks between U.S. and North Korean officials in coming days were expected to clarify the situation.
Mr Pompeo said on Wednesday the U.S. is prepared to walk away from nuclear negotiations with North Korea if the summit heads in the wrong direction.
He said he was “very hopeful” the summit would take place but said the decision was ultimately up to Jong-Un, who the secretary of state has met twice in less than two months.
Mr Trump raised doubts about the summit in talks on Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who came to Washington to urge Mr Trump not to let a rare opportunity with reclusive North Korea slip away.
It was unclear whether the U.S. president was truly backing away from the summit or whether he was strategically coaxing North Korea to the table after decades of tension on the Korean peninsula and antagonism with Washington over its nuclear weapons program.
The White House was caught off guard when, in a dramatic change of tone, North Korea condemned the latest U.S.-South Korean air combat drills, suspended North-South talks and threatened to scrap the summit if Pyongyang was pushed toward “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”
North Korea’s vice foreign minister said the future of the summit between Pyongyang and Washington was “entirely” up to the U.S.
“We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” said Choe Hui, according to a report by North Korea’s central news agency on Thursday.
Ms Hui said she could suggest to leader Jong-Un that North Korea reconsider the summit if the U.S. offended the North’s good will.
If the summit is called off or fails, it would be a major blow to what Mr Trump’s supporters hope will be the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency.
Also on Wednesday, a UN Security Council committee approved travel by North Korean officials to Singapore for the summit, diplomats said.
Singapore had asked the UN sanctions panel for a blanket waiver for the North Koreans’ participation.
Similarly, Germany and China are committed to upholding the Iran nuclear deal in spite the U.S. withdrawal, Mr Keqiang and Ms Merkel have said in Beijing.
Ms Merkel said the agreement is not perfect, but the alternatives are even more uncertain.
She said sanctions might drive some European companies away from doing business with Iran, which leaves room for other countries to step in.
“The agreement’s cancellation endangers peace and stability in the region,” Mr Keqiang also said.
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