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Moon, Xi say negotiation, not war, to end North Korean crisis

Leaders agree to open direct phone line between them

South Korean President Moon Jae-In, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at the end of a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 14.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping said Thursday that the North Korean nuclear crisis would be resolved through talks and negotiation rather than war.

The two leaders agreed that the two Koreas should be free of nuclear weapons and rejected the plan by the regime under North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to complete its nuclear arms and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang said in November it successfully launched its advanced intercontinental ballistic missile which can target all of the U.S. mainland.

"The two leaders agreed on four principles for peace and stabilization on the Korean peninsula," said Yoon Young-chan, senior adviser to Moon in a televised press briefing. "First, not to accept war on the Korean peninsula. Second, to hold firmly to the denuclearization principle."

He said the third principle was to resolve all issues, including the denuclearization of North Korea, peacefully through negotiations. And finally, to improve relations between the two Koreas which will help solve problems on the peninsula.

Their agreements echoed those of U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson who said Tuesday that the administration was willing to talk with North Korea without preconditions, offering an olive branch to the isolated nation.

The Blue House said that Moon and Xi also agreed to open a emergency phone line between them, in part to mend the relationship soured by the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Seongju in March. The two countries have been at odds over the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, as China has opposed it vehemently, saying that the system's radars could be used to monitor its military bases and other security facilities.

Even though the two leaders agreed on key issues, Moon's four-day state visit was not without incident. Two South Korean photo journalists were assaulted by Chinese guards earlier in the day while trying to cover Moon's attendance at a business meeting in Beijing. The South Korean government raised its concerns over the matter to the Chinese authorities and asked for appropriate actions to be against the perpetrators.

Also, Moon was greeted by a director-level officer, rather than a minister, upon his arrival at the airport on Wednesday.

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