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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Warms to U.S. Korean Peace Plan

THE HAGUE -- China said Friday that a U.S. and South Korean proposal for four-way talks on a Korean peace treaty was reasonable provided all parties -- an implicit reference to North Korea -- agreed to them.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen was speaking to reporters before talks with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher aimed at smoothing the often bumpy relations between the two nuclear powers.

China is one of the four countries involved in a proposal launched this week by the U.S. and South Korean presidents for talks on a permanent peace to replace a 43-year-old armistice agreement. The others are the two Koreas and the United States.

Asked about the proposal, Qian said through an interpreter: "We think it reasonable, but we also believe that such a kind of proposal can only be realized especially when those parties directly concerned can reach agreement."

He was referring to the thorny problem of winning the agreement of North Korea, which has said in the past it wants bilateral talks with the United States, to the proposal.

U.S. officials say North Korean diplomats have told them they are still studying the plan.

Christopher, standing alongside Qian in the grounds of the Chinese ambassador's residence in a Hague suburb, said: "We have a common commitment to a non-nuclear Korean peninsular and to a resumption of dialogue between the North and South."

Christopher and Qian are trying to iron out a string of U.S.-Chinese problems over Taiwan, nuclear proliferation, human rights and trade.

Qian said Chinese relations with Washington were "at a crucial juncture" and he hoped for "candid, serious and pragmatic talks." He highlighted the issue of Taiwan as one of concern to Beijing.

The United States sent two aircraft carriers to waters off Taiwan last month after China staged military exercises and missile tests off the coast near the island which it considers a renegade province.

Tensions abated after Taiwan's March 23 presidential elections and Christopher said Washington was now looking for a resumption of dialogue between Beijing and Taipei.

Neither man referred to another vexed issue -- U.S. allegations that China has sold ring magnets, which can be used for nuclear weapons production, to Pakistan. But U.S. officials said earlier this would be raised.

If Washington officially determines that China sold Pakistan the magnets, and that the Beijing government was aware of this, it is obliged to impose sanctions on China including blocking Export-Import Bank loans for up to $10 billion of trade deals.