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North Korea still commands diplomatic focus

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-11-01 10:29

US President Barack Obama is looking forward to another meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Lima, Peru, late this month, according to Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Monday.

Hua was quoting US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken who was in Beijing on Oct 29 for the interim Strategic Security Dialogue.

In Beijing, Blinken met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when they discussed, among others, the Korean nuclear issue. The United Nations Security Council has been discussing possible new sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after it conducted its fifth nuclear test in early September.

Hua reiterated Chinese stance of realizing denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding its peace and stability and resolving relevant issues through dialogue and negotiation. "It serves the interests of all," she said.

"We maintain that actions by the Security Council should help realize the aforementioned goals without impeding normal business cooperation and exchanges between all parties and the DPRK," Hua said.

The message is seen as a dismissal of some Western reports that China might ban all imports of coal, iron ore and other materials from DPRK.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Oct 28 that the resolution should target DPRK's nuclear tests and DPRK's nuclear and missile programs. "As for what kind of resolution will emerge at last from the consultation among all members, we shall wait and see," he said.

In a media roundtable in Beijing on Oct 29, Blinken described the DPRK issue as the "top agenda issue".

He said DPRK is getting closer to the day when it will be able to marry a miniaturized nuclear warhead to an ICMB that can reach the continental US. "That's simply unacceptable," he said.

Blinken indicated the US' strong preference to work this cooperatively with China, but added that "we've also been very clear that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves, to defend our allies and partners and to insist on the implementation of sanctions against the regime."

The US plan to deploy a THAAD missile defense system in South Korea has drawn sharp criticism from both China and Russia, which believe the system will compromise their national security while doing little to defend South Korea.

US National Intelligence Director James Clapper said last Tuesday that the US policy of trying to persuade DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons "is probably a lost cause" and the best that could be hoped for is a cap on the country's nuclear capability.

Blinken reiterated that the US policy on DPRK has not changed.

Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies and director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that realism will take over. "Realism is that North Korea has the capability and they are not going to give up," he said.

"My view is you make a big offer. You put everything North Korea says and wants on the table. And if they don't take the offer, use that as the appeal to international community to really tighten the sanctions," Paal said.

He suggested giving North Korea the chance to probably maintain the minimum nuclear capability as a deterrent against the US or others. "But at the same time, cap that process, so it doesn't become a greater threat and keep that stabilized," he said.

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