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VP calls for peace during DPRK visit

By Li Xiaokun | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-27 02:03

Li tours Korean War cemetery, commemorates fallen soldiers

Vice-President Li Yuanchao on Friday called for regional peace during a visit to a cemetery near Pyongyang where Chinese soldiers who died in the Korean War are buried.

Li is on a four-day visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War (1950-53) armistice. Observers said the visit presents an opportunity for the two nations to reflect on the war and build upon their strong ties.

"The aim of our commemorations for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice is to face the future, better maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula and seek regional prosperity and growth," Li said.

He is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Pyongyang since DPRK leader Kim Jong-un took office in late 2011. Li's visit comes two months after Kim sent a special envoy to Beijing to deliver a handwritten letter from Kim.

During their meeting, Li conveyed a message from President Xi Jinping to Kim.

According to the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency, Li told Kim on Thursday that his delegation has a mission to "preserve and glorify through future generations (their) blood-sealed" friendship.

Li said China remains firm in its policy to maintain bilateral ties. Kim replied that boosting bilateral ties is also his country's "steadfast will".

A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Li also reaffirmed Beijing's insistence that the DPRK make steps toward denuclearization.

Kim said Pyongyang "supports China's efforts to restart the Six-Party Talks".

Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies, said the Chinese delegation is making efforts to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue smoothly.

Li on Friday toured a cemetery where many Chinese officers and soldiers — including a son of Mao Zedong — were buried as well as the Friendship Tower, which has depictions of both Chinese and Korean soldiers during the war.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Defense University, more than 180,000 Chinese people died in the war.

Li said China will forever remember the "sons and daughters of the Chinese nation" who gave their lives to defend peace and the motherland.

Li arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday on a four-day visit to attend activities marking the anniversary, which falls on July 27. Kim told Li on Thursday during their meeting that the DPRK will remember the Chinese martyrs whose lives were sacrificed in the war.

Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary on Friday that cherishing peace is the best way to commemorate the dead.

Qian Lihua, former chief of the Foreign Affairs Office under the Ministry of National Defense, wrote on Wednesday in the overseas edition of People's Daily that people should not forget the Korean War.

"Efforts to realize unification through armed force failed 60 years ago, while today's attempts to solve the Korean Peninsula issue through force still cannot reach the goal," he wrote.

He called for countries involved to avoid repeating the Cold War.

On Thursday, Kim launched the country's remembrance of the war by unveiling a new cemetery in Pyongyang. The ceremony was attended by several US war veterans who survived the Korean War.

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