China reiterated its backing on Thursday for a so-called “freeze for freeze” to resolve a nuclear crisis with North Korea that involves halting joint military exercises between South Korea and the US in exchange for Pyongyang freezing its nuke weapons and missile testing.
“China sees the freeze-for-freeze scheme as the most reasonable way,” Geng Shuang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Geng was responding to a question regarding an earlier comment by President Donald Trump that appeared to reject China’s “freeze for freeze” concept.
Remarking on the results of his 12-day Asia trip that included a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Trump said in Washington on Wednesday that the two leaders agreed that they “would not accept” the freeze-for-freeze agreement, “like those that have consistently failed in the past.”
Geng called a simultaneous halt to the joint US-South Korea military exercises and North Korea’s testing a “first step” in creating an environment for talks. He also called on other countries in the dispute to “actively” consider the method that China had proposed.
“The freeze-for-freeze move is just for a breakthrough and the first step,” he said. “The final objective is to peacefully resolve the North’s nuclear problem and realize long-term stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
The Chinese spokesman also stressed that the nations involved shared the view that military force shouldn’t be an option in resolving the North’s nuclear problem. He reaffirmed Beijing’s support for peaceful means including negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.