China and North Korea reached consensus on the Korean Peninsula crisis after “candid” talks, Xinhua news agency reported, which analysts said suggested Pyongyang likely agreed not to inflame the situation.
The meeting came as Beijing and Washington continued to trade barbs over how best to deal with the spike in tension on the divided peninsula, with China rejecting US pressure to take its impoverished ally to task over last month’s artillery attack on the South.
Xinhua said Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) met the isolated North’s ailing leader Kim Jong-il for talks in Pyongyang and “the two sides reached consensus on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula after candid and in-depth talks.”
North Korea’s KCNA news agency said the talks were “held over the issue of boosting the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and a series of issues of mutual concern.”
“It’s difficult to expect much in the consensus more than a general agreement on the need to resolve the situation ... in a peaceful manner and through dialogue, and that they can’t have tensions escalating,” Park Young-ho of the Korea Institute of National Unification said.
Neither news agency gave any further details.
“It is hard to say what the consensus Xinhua mentioned really is, but from the words ‘in-depth’ and ‘candid,’ I think that Kim Jong-il must have had a good attitude toward the meeting,” Wang Dong (王棟) of the School of International Studies at Peking University said.
“Dai may have gotten some kind of verbal promise from North Korea that there will be no escalation from its side, as China may have told Kim Jong-il to make an expression of goodwill to bring the other four countries back to the six-party talks table,” Wang said.
The talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program comprise the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US but have been on hold for about two years.
The North wants to resume the talks, but Washington and Seoul have said they will only consider a return when Pyongyang shows it is sincere about denuclearization.
The US has repeatedly called on Beijing to bring its ally to heel after the North bombarded a South Korean island last month, killing four people, and revealed advances to its nuclear program opening another route to make an atomic bomb.
Earlier yesterday, the US military chief criticized Beijing for enabling its ally Pyongyang’s “reckless behavior,” prompting a sharp rebuke from Beijing.
“I would like to question that person who has accused China as to what he has done for maintaining peace and stability in the region,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) told reporters in Beijing. “Military threats are not the solution. That will only worsen regional tensions.”