Kerry Meets China’s Leaders to Push Them on North Korea
Washington – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met China’s top leaders on Saturday in a bid to persuade them to exert pressure on North Korea to scale back its belligerent rhetoric and, eventually, return to nuclear talks. Travelling to Beijing for the first time as secretary of state, Kerry made no secret of his desire to see China take a more activist stance towards North Korea, which in recent weeks has threatened nuclear war against the United States and South Korea.
As the North’s main trading partner, financial backer and the closest thing it has to a diplomatic ally, China has a unique ability to use its leverage against the impoverished, isolated state, Kerry said in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Friday before leaving for Beijing.
“Mr. President, this is obviously a critical time with some very challenging issues – issues on the Korean peninsula, the challenge of Iran and nuclear weapons, Syria and the Middle East, and economies around the world that are in need of a boost,” Kerry told Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People. Kerry said after the meeting that his talks with Xi were “constructive and forward-leaning”, though he did not elaborate.
Chinese state television quoted Premier Li Keqiang as telling Kerry that rising tensions on the Korean peninsula were in nobody’s interests. Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for peace, dialogue and denuclearization of the peninsula, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
“All sides must bear responsibility for maintaining regional peace and stability and be responsible for the consequences,” the television report paraphrased Li as saying. “Disturbances and provocation on the peninsula and regionally will harm the interests of all sides, which is like lifting a rock only to drop it on one’s feet.” China had a testy relationship with Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, believing her to be too abrasive in their disagreements over everything from human rights to territorial disputes like the South China Sea. (Reuters)