Posted : 2013-09-08 18:40
Updated : 2013-09-08 18:40

Park talks with Putin, Xi on North Korea

President Park Geun-hye, left, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg, Friday. / Yonhap
President Park Geun-hye looks at a painting during her visit to the Saint Petersburg Hermitage Museum in Russia, Saturday, after attending the two-day G20 summit held in the Russian city that ended Friday. / Yonhap

By Kim Tae-gyu

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — From the perspective of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the significance of the countrys relations with its neighbors South Korea and Japan might be different as shown over the G20 Summit last week.

Before the leaders of the worlds foremost 20 economies officially met, Xi had a 20-minute talk with Park, which observers say is almost tantamount to a summit.

In comparison, Xi talked less than five minutes with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the two-day summit here and apparently focused on Abes provocative actions and remarks negating the island countrys wartime misdeeds, according to reports.

The 20-minute discussions between Xi and Park, who became closer after the bilateral summit this June, were carried out in a very amiable environment, a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

For example, Park said that she was starving in Chinese and this prompted laughter from both Korean and Chinese delegates.

But the mood was quite different when Xi met Abe — the former demanded that the latter face history in an appropriate manner in a reference to Japans problematic attitude.

Park also had an encounter with Abe but hardly said anything apart from a casual greeting as the two met for the first time since their inaugurations — last December for Abe and this February for Park.

Abe, who has yet to have a summit with Xi, has requested a summit with Park, who has not responded positively yet due to Koreans negative sentiments toward him.

Japans first Prime Minister to be born after World War II has practically denied his countrys aggressive actions in Asia before and during the war, contending that the term invasion has not been defined internationally and academically.

He also defended Japanese lawmakers and senior bureaucrats, who visit the Yasukuni Shrine, which houses the remains of 14 Class-A war criminals.

Abe has also spearheaded the countrys efforts to claim sovereignty of Koreas easternmost Dokdo Islets, which currently have armed police stationed there.

Abe also angered the Chinese by maintaining a hard-line stance over the Senkaku Islands.

Such approaches have helped Abe win great domestic popularity, thus helping him win elections; but has generated anger in Korea and Chins as the two were direct victims of imperial Japan.

Japan occupied Korea from 1910 through 1945.

Under Abes stewardship, however, Japan has not acknowledge its wrongdoing including sex slave issues.

On Friday Park asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to work with her to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff and push for such ambitious joint projects as linking railways of the two nations via the North.

Park and Putin met after they and other leaders of the worlds top 20 advanced and emerging economies wrapped up two days of discussions in Russias second-largest city.

Park hailed the progress in relations between Seoul and Moscow since they opened diplomatic relations in 1990. "I hope we can work together to resolve the issue and upgrade relations between the two countries," she said.

Park also said that one of her foreign policy priorities is to strengthen relations with Eurasian nations. She also expressed hopes for realizing a long-discussed ambitious project to link railways of the two sides via North Korea and through to Europe.

"I personally have dreamed of a railway going from Busan through to Europe via Russia," Park said. "That is why I mentioned it many times in my speeches. I have been interested in that for a long time."

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