(Adds quotes, details)
BEIJING May 11 Chinese President Xi Jinping
discussed nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula with South
Korea's new liberal President Moon Jae-in on Thursday, state
television said, as Moon set about addressing a raft of problems
posed by the North's defiance.
Xi told Moon that China has always upheld the
denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and that the nuclear
issue should be resolved through talks, which are in everyone's
interests, according to the state television report.
China was willing to keep working hard with all parties,
including South Korea, for the peace and prosperity of the
Korean peninsula, Xi said.
Despite Chinese anger at North Korea's repeated nuclear and
missile tests, China remains the isolated state's most important
economic and diplomatic backer, even as Beijing has signed up
for tough U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.
Beijing also has its own issues with Seoul. China has
vigorously opposed the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system
in South Korea, saying it threatens Chinese security and will do
nothing to resolve tensions with North Korea.
The Chinese state television report made no direct mention
of the anti-missile system, instead citing Xi as saying that
both sides should handle their disputes appropriately.
China also hopes the new South Korean government attaches
importance to China's concerns and takes steps to promote the
stable and healthy development of ties, Xi said.
Moon said in his first speech as president on Wednesday he
would immediately begin efforts to defuse security fears on the
Korean peninsula and would negotiate with Washington and Beijing
to ease tensions over the deployment of the Terminal High
Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in the South.
He also said he was prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the
conditions are right".
North Korea is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear
test and is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable
of reaching the United States, presenting U.S. President Donald
Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue.
Moon's swearing-in on Wednesday brought to an end a
months-long power vacuum after previous president Park Geun-hye
was ousted in a corruption scandal in March.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)