South Korea's new President Moon Jae-in told Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday that North Korea must cease making provocations before tensions over the deployment of a USA anti-missile system in the South can be resolved, officials said.
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.
South Korea's new liberal President Moon Jae-in was sworn in on Wednesday and vowed to immediately tackle the hard tasks of addressing North Korea's advancing nuclear ambitions and soothing tensions with the United States and China.
Mr Moon acknowledged Chinese concerns about the system but said that Beijing should address the "restraints and restrictions" punitively imposed on South Korean companies operating in China.
North Korea, which considers China its sole major diplomatic ally and economic benefactor, is also expected to send a delegation to the two-day meeting in Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry has said.
Abe and Moon agreed to meet soon, and Xi invited the South Korean leader to Beijing.
"North and South Korea should seek dialogue and negoti-ations at various levels", it added.
While Moon may try to soothe Chinese anger over the missile-defense system, many observers say it appears too late to call for its withdrawal, which would greatly undermine South Korea's relationship with Washington.
After the obligatory congratulations, Japan is cautiously watching to see how relations with South Korea evolve under Moon, known for his tough stance on wartime history and territorial issues.
Although Ms Park's ouster was painful, it also demonstrated the resilience of South Korea's democracy.
"While it will be important to resolve the issues peacefully and diplomatically, holding a dialogue for the objective of a dialogue would be meaningless", Abe said, referring to Pyongyang's ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests.
The new president wants to increase contacts with North Korea, while continuing to pressure its government.
Mr Moon assumed presidential duties early in the morning after the national election commission finished counting Tuesday's votes and declared him victor of the special election necessitated by the ousting of conservative Park Geun-hye.
Relations with Japan have also been rocky despite an agreement reached between the two governments in 2015 regarding reparations for South Korean women forced into sexual slavery during Japan's colonial rule.
While taking the oath of office Wednesday, Moon said he's open to visiting North Korea under the right conditions. It said Moon told Abe that it was emotionally hard for South Koreans to accept the agreement.
Mr Moon Jae-in first spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping and later to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, about how to respond to North Korea rapidly developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
He has taken a more conciliatory line with North Korea than his conservative predecessors and advocates engagement. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, he made it clear that he sees South Korea's alliance with the United States as the bedrock of its diplomacy and promised not to begin talks with North Korea without first consulting the US.