China, S. Korea agree to push Korean peninsula denuclearisation: Xi

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) in Beijing on June 27, 2013

BEIJING - China and South Korea on Thursday agreed to push for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a summit with the South's leader focused on North Korea's nuclear programme.

"We on both sides consistently agree to continue to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and firmly protect peace and stability on the peninsula," Xi said during a joint appearance with South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye.

Park arrived in Beijing on Thursday for summit talks to be dominated by Pyongyang's nuclear programme, seeking to push China to do more to bring its wayward ally North Korea to heel.

"We have agreed that under any circumstances, North Korea's nuclear (weapons) are unacceptable and confirmed that the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is of common interest for the two countries," Park said.

China has previously supported denuclearisation but tended to prioritise regional stability, for decades acting as the sole major ally and economic lifeline to the unpredictable North.

Washington and Seoul have made it clear they will never accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear state, and insist Pyongyang must show a tangible commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons if it wants substantive talks.

Both have pressured China to use more of its leverage to rein in Pyongyang.

The North appears to have moderated its stance after a series of bellicose statements and gestures against the South and the United States in recent months, including threats of nuclear war.

While a planned meeting with South Korea fell through, it has offered direct talks with Washington, and has sent two envoys to Beijing in the past four weeks.

China's relationship with North Korea - famously described by Mao Zedong as being as close as "lips and teeth" - was forged in the 1950-53 Korean War which China entered to prevent the North's total defeat.

But it has weakened significantly over the years, as China's economic transformation has distanced it from the ideological rigidity of the dynastic Kim regime across the border.

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