Bei­jing, Wash­ing­ton near UN ac­cord on N. Korea as mis­sile di­vide re­mains

Business Mirror - - BM REPORTS -

U. S. and Chi­nese of­fi­cials cited “sig­nif­i­cant” progress on a new United Na­tions res­o­lu­tion tar­get­ing North Korea’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram, while lay­ing out con­tin­ued dif­fer­ences over the con­tested South China Sea.

For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi and Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry wouldn’t give de­tails of any draft pro­posal, which would pun­ish North Korea for its re­cent nu­clear test and long- range rocket launch that vi­o­lated UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions.

The launch prompted South Korea’s govern­ment to say it would be will­ing to dis­cuss in­stalling a US mis­sile- de­fense sys­tem on its ter­ri­tory, a move long op­posed by China.

“The res­o­lu­tion is be­ing eval­u­ated by our teams in both Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton, but the fact that it is be­ing eval­u­ated is sig­nif­i­cant,” Kerry said at a briefing with Wang on Tues­day in Wash­ing­ton. “There is no ques­tion that if the res­o­lu­tion is ap­proved, it will go be­yond any­thing pre­vi­ously passed.”

Kerry added that there would be no need to de­ploy the mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, known as Thaad, if North Korea agrees to aban­don its nu­clear-weapons pro­gram. The United States main­tains about 28,500 troops in South Korea and China sees any ad­di­tional troops or weapons sys­tems as a threat to its se­cu­rity in­ter­ests in Asia.

Tougher sanc­tions

CHINA’S par­tic­i­pa­tion in any new sanc­tions is es­sen­tial, as it is by far North Korea’s lead­ing trade part­ner, pro­vid­ing most of the iso­lated coun­try’s en­ergy and food. That re­la­tion­ship has been strained as Kim Jong Un ramps up his nu­cle­ar­weapons pro­gram.

So far, China has been cau­tious about tougher penal­ties fo­cused on oil ship­ments to the regime in Py­ongyang, con­cerned about spark­ing in­sta­bil­ity in a coun­try with whom it shares a long bor­der.

The US and China have ten­ta­tively reached an agree­ment on North Korea that in­cludes a ban on ex­port­ing jet fuel that the air force uses, South Korea’s Dong- A

Ilbo news­pa­per re­ported, cit­ing peo­ple it did not iden­tify.

It was the third meet­ing be­tween Kerry and Wang in a month, and came af­ter China de­ployed mis­siles on Woody Is­land in the dis­puted South China Sea, an area con­tested by China and a num­ber of South­east Asian na­tions. Kerry said the US seeks to halt the “mil­i­ta­riza­tion” of the re­gion and gov­ern­ments should avoid uni­lat­eral ac­tions to ex­er­cise their claims, sin­gling out China and Viet­nam.

‘His­toric’ claims

WANG coun­tered by say­ing China has “his­toric” claims in the sea and is crit­i­ciz­ing ac­tions by the Philip­pines, which China says has bro­ken ear­lier ac­cords over the area. Wang also called for a halt to “close up” mil­i­tary re­con­nais­sance in the wa­ter­way, where the US of­ten pa­trols with air­planes and war­ships.

Hours be­fore the Wang- Kerry meet­ing, the top US com­man­der in the Pa­cific said his fleet would con­tinue “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tions” in the sea, cit­ing its im­por­tance to global trade.

“China is clearly mil­i­ta­riz­ing the South China Sea and you’d have to be­lieve in the flat Earth to think oth­er­wise,” Ad­mi­ral Harry Har­ris said at a Se­nate com­mit­tee hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton. “I be­lieve China seeks hege­mony in East Asia. Sim­ple as that.”

Kerry and Wang did seek to high­light ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing re­cent ac­cords on cli- mate change and ef­forts to halt Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

“We need to take a tele­scope to vi­su­al­ize the fu­ture rather than a mi­cro­scope to amplify the prob­lems,” Wang said.

“We should make the pie of co­op­er­a­tion big­ger.”

AP

SEC­RE­TARY of State John Kerry (right) lis­tens as Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi speaks dur­ing a me­dia avail­abil­ity at the State Depart­ment in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day.

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