The U.S. and China have been "refining" their strategies for an eventual elimination of North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs at their annual strategic talks in Beijing, a senior U.S. State Department official has said.
North Korea is one of the topics being discussed at the annual U.S.-China dialogue in Beijing, along with a broad range of diplomatic, economic and international issues between the two countries. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi led the two-day talks that will end later Thursday.
"I think that the conversation today will advance the progress that has long been underway, which is the narrowing of differences and expansion of U.S.-China cooperation towards what we long agreed is a common goal, namely the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea," the senior State Department official said at the end of the first day of talks on Wednesday.
The remarks were posted on the U.S. department's website.
"We are refining our respective strategies. We are expanding the places where we can do more together, and we're delving down more deeply in the conversation about what may work and at what risk and at what cost," the official said.
However, the official made it clear that the U.S. won't resume the moribund six-party talks unless North Korea first lives up to previous obligations.
"There's nothing new in the U.S. interest in negotiations. We make an important distinction, though, between negotiations to verify the rollback and the eventual elimination of North Korea's nuclear and nuclear missile programs, and talks," the official said.
"It's not hard to get the North Koreans to come to the table, but they come to the table ready to pound it, to demand concessions," the official said. "That gets no one anywhere."
North Korea, which has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006 and threatened to conduct a "new form of nuclear test," repeatedly expressed its willingness to reopen the six-party talks "without preconditions."
Although South Korea and the U.S. have called on China to play a greater role in leading North Korea to demonstrate with action its commitment to denuclearize before any resumption of the nuclear talks with the North can take place, Beijing's efforts have still been more accommodating toward North Korea.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made a visit to Seoul last week and held summit talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Traditionally, a Chinese head of state visits North Korea first before making a trip to South Korea.
While China's overall strategy on North Korea remains unchanged, the U.S. official said, last week's visit by Xi to Seoul demonstrated Beijing's apparent tactical shift.
"It is unmistakably clear from the decision by President Xi Jinping to visit Seoul long before there's any talk of him visiting Pyongyang or a North Korean leader visiting Beijing that China increasingly recognizes that its old style of deference and accommodation is not sustainable and is not yielding results," the official said. (Yonhap)