China agrees with the US that denuclearization talks can only resume if Pyongyang shows its seriousness about past agreements, a senior US official said yesterday.
China has called for the resumption of talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear program and faced strong criticism from some US lawmakers, who believe Beijing has not done enough to prod its neighbor.
However, US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who recently met with China’s chief nuclear negotiator, said Washington and Beijing agreed that North Korea needed to adhere to a 2005 denuclearization agreement before new talks.
“I think that there is a recognition that there is simply little value in moving forward without some very concrete indication that the North Koreans are interested in implementing the 2005 statement,” Steinberg said.
“And the Chinese were very clear on that. There was no disagreement at all,” Steinberg told a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“They realize that given what’s happened on a number of fronts — both with the actions of the North Koreans last year and then following the Cheonan — that we are not simply going to go back to talking,” he said.
North Korea tested a long-range missile and a nuclear bomb last year and stormed out of six-nation denuclearization talks. In March, South Korea’s Cheonan sank, killing 46 sailors. The US and Seoul say that North Korea torpedoed the vessel.
China has not endorsed the findings of the Cheonan probe and its state media has urged the US, South Korea and Japan not to “bully” the North.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said last Thursday that Beijing and Washington both wanted dialogue to “create conditions for the early resumption of the six-party talks.”
In the 2005 agreement and a related statement in 2007, North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in return for security guarantees and badly needed aid.
In related news, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought ideas on Monday in New York from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) about how to engage diplomatically with both the North and Iran in a bid to curb their nuclear ambitions, her spokesman Philip Crowley said, adding that Clinton also discussed the need to fully implement existing UN Security Council sanctions against both countries.
Clinton sought “Chinese ideas on how to successfully engage both countries, at the same time reaffirming that we will continue to fully implement both [sanctions] resolutions,” Crowley said.