Sun, May 06, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Clinton says North Korea must reform

UNLIKELY PARTNERS:The US called on China to play a more active role in resolving international conflicts by using its economic influence to apply pressure

Reuters, BEIJING

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday that Washington was willing to work with North Korea if it changed its ways, and also said more pressure should be put on Sudan and Syria.

Speaking in Beijing at the end of two days of high-level meetings overshadowed by the crisis of a Chinese dissident who sought refuge at the US embassy, Clinton aimed to underscore that Washington and Beijing could still work together on key international issues.

“We see two nations that are now thoroughly and inescapably interdependent,” Clinton said in prepared remarks at the meeting.

On North Korea, where the US wants China to put more pressure on the isolated nation’s leadership to reign in its nuclear ambitions, Clinton said Washington was still willing to work with Pyongyang if it changes its ways.

“The new leadership in Pyongyang still has the opportunity to change course and put their people first. If they focus on honoring their commitments and rejoining the international community, and on feeding and educating their citizens, the US will welcome them and work with them,” she said.

Clinton also underscored that the US and China — both permanent members of the UN Security Council — could work together to put similar pressure on Iran over its nuclear program

“If we ease off the pressure or waiver in our resolve, Iran will have less incentive to negotiate in good faith or to take the necessary steps to address the international community’s concerns,” Clinton said.

She also urged China to join the US and other countries in considering additional sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his brutal crackdown of anti-government dissidents. Washington and its allies accuse Assad of failing to comply with a peace plan drawn up by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“Now it’s critical that the international community — including China and the US — hold the regime accountable for its commitments,” Clinton said. “The credibility of the [Security] Council is at stake.”

Clinton applauded fellow permanent member Beijing for supporting a UN Security Council resolution backing an African Union peace plan for Sudan and South Sudan.

She called on China to send a strong message to Khartoum that it must unconditionally halt all cross-border attacks, particularly its “provocative aerial bombardments” against its southern neighbor.

US officials say Beijing’s considerable economic leverage in both Khartoum and Juba could be an important factor in calming hostilities between the two countries that arose after the South seceded peacefully last July.

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