China to Push to Revive N. Korea Talks

topic posted Mon, February 14, 2005 - 10:44 PM by  Richard

China to Push to Revive N. Korea Talks

Published: February 13, 2005

Filed at 11:12 p.m. ET

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- China has pledged to
try reviving talks aimed at ending North Korea's
nuclear programs following the isolated, Stalinist
state's declaration that it has atomic weapons and
is boycotting disarmament negotiations.

The United States and other countries involved in
the six-party talks have urged China to use its
influence over North Korea. Beijing is Pyongyang's
last major ally and a key supplier of food and
energy to the impoverished dictatorship.


Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Beijing
firmly supports a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,
the Chinese government said Sunday.

Li told Rice by phone Saturday night that ``China
will stay in touch with all relevant parties ...
so that the six-party talks could be resumed as
soon as possible,'' the Foreign Ministry said. The
discussions also involve South Korea, Russia and

South Korea's foreign minister also said he had
discussed with U.S. officials ``views that China
should strengthen efforts to persuade the North,''
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. Ban
Ki-moon, in Washington on a previously scheduled
trip, was to meet Rice on Monday.

However, South Korea's point man on North Korea,
Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, cautioned
Monday it was too early to declare North Korea a
``nuclear state.'' He said it had still not been
independently confirmed and the North had not yet
conducted nuclear tests.

North Korea announced Thursday that it has built
nuclear weapons to defend itself from the alleged
threat of a U.S. invasion -- dramatically raising
tensions in the two-year nuclear standoff.
Washington denies it intends to attack. North
Korea's claim could not be independently verified.

North Korea also said it would stay away from the
six-country negotiations. A North Korean diplomat
reportedly has requested direct talks with
Washington as a way out of the impasse.

But the White House rejects such a move and
insists that the North join the six-party talks.
Three rounds of negotiations have been held in
Beijing with no breakthrough.

On Sunday, a North Korean district official in
Pyongyang said the withdrawal of U.S. troops from
the Korean Peninsula would help six-party talks.
Han Song Nam, a deputy chairman for a district in
Pyongyang of the country's communist party, said
it ``would be a practical measure in the
withdrawal of the United States' hostile policy,''
according to Yonhap, which monitored North Korea's
Radio Pyongyang.

Washington has been South Korea's key security
ally since the 1950-1953 Korean war, and keeps
thousands of troops based there and in neighboring

Ban, in an interview aired Sunday on CNN's ``Late
Edition,'' said he was confident in Washington's
ability to react to any potential emergency on the
Korean peninsula.

Asked whether he was concerned that fighting in
Iraq might leave U.S. forces stretched too thin to
deal with such a case, Ban said: ``We think that
the United States has enough capabilities to deal
with all these regional conflicts while they are
concentrating their military forces in Iraq.''

North Korea did not say how many nuclear bombs it
has, but Australian Foreign Minister Alexander
Downer said Sunday that his country suspected it
had two or three.

Downer also warned that North Korea's declaration
could spur nuclear proliferation in Asia.

``There will be some people in South Korea, some
people in Japan who will say, 'Well, if North
Korea has nuclear weapons and can threaten us, why
shouldn't we have nuclear weapons as well?'''
Downer told Australia's Nine Network television.

Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced
similar concerns, saying North Korea's move could
push Japan to ``go nuclear.''

``And then China's got a real problem,'' Biden
said in an interview on the U.S. current affairs
television program ``Fox News Sunday.''

Biden also said that, in dealing with the North,
the United States' ``partners'' in the North Korea
situation -- China, South Korea and Japan --
``have got to be ready to use sticks, and we have
to be willing to use a few more carrots.''

Meanwhile, Ban said the South had no plans to halt
aid to the North, noting it provides its longtime
rival with fertilizer and rice due to
``humanitarian concerns.'' He also dismissed an
American newspaper report that Vice President Dick
Cheney asked Seoul to stop providing fertilizer.

The North has also repeatedly accused South Korean
warships of crossing the countries' disputed sea
border in recent weeks.
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