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Kerry Warns China Against New Air-Defense Zone

February 14, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned China against unilateral moves to set up a new air-defense zone that would include disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing on February 14, Kerry said unilateral steps could threaten regional stability at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Tokyo over the islands.

He was speaking after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier in the day.

Kerry, who arrived in Beijing from Seoul on the second leg of an Asia tour, also said that North Korea must take 'meaningful, concrete, and irreversible steps towards denuclearization.'

He said the Chinese leaders had been 'forceful' in reaffirming their commitment to that shared goal.

Kerry also met on February 14 with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

After that meeting, Kerry said his talks with the Chinese president had been 'very constructive' and 'very positive,' with 'an opportunity to dig into the detail of some of the North Korea challenges.'

But Kerry made no mention of China's territorial claims against its smaller neighbors or other disputes facing both countries.

Wang said China stands ready to work with Washington.

Meanwhile, North and South Korea have agreed, after high-level talks, to hold reunions of war-divided families as planned, despite a dispute over upcoming U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Chief South Korean representative Kim Kyou-hyun said North Korean officials at the talks on February 14 withdrew their insistence that the reunions be delayed because of the drills.

North Korea claims the drills are a rehearsal for invasion, while the South and the United States say they are defensive in nature.

The reunions were initially agreed last week and are scheduled to take place in North Korea between February 20 and 25.

The family reunions are a sensitive and emotional issue for the two countries, divided since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The two Koreas have allowed temporary reunions of selected divided families on a handful of occasions since a 2000 summit.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa and Yonhap

Source: talks-korea-regional-tensions/25263471.html

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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