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Allies urge China action on N.K.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan on Wednesday urged China to join the allied efforts to sanction North Korea for the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan.

Clinton, calling the incident an “unacceptable provocation” by the North, said the international community including China has the responsibility to respond.

President Lee Myung-bak greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald
President Lee Myung-bak greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald

“We believe that this is in everyone’s interest including China’s to make a persuasive case for North Korea to change direction,” she said in a joint press conference with Yu.

In the long term, Clinton said, such measures would give North Korea an opportunity to “look internally to what they can do to improve the standing of their own people and provide a different future.”

She added that her recent consultations with China showed that Beijing understands the seriousness of the Cheonan issue.

Yu said while it would take more time to persuade China and Russia -- both nations enjoying close relations with Pyongyang -- the truth will speak for itself.

“They cannot ignore the truth,” he said.

As Pyongyang’s closest ally, China has so far maintained a neutral stance regarding the sinking and ensuing investigation.

It received last week’s probe results with no particular comment, saying only that Beijing wants to sustain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.

China’s vote will be critical in pursuing a U.N. resolution against North Korea because it stands as a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council.

Clinton arrived in Seoul earlier in the day after wrapping up a trip to Japan and China.

In both countries, she sought cooperation on the Cheonan, citing the multinational investigation that put forward extensive forensic evidence linking North Korea to the March 26 sinking of the warship. A total of 46 sailors died in what many are calling the worst military crisis since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Clinton emphasized Washington’s full support for Seoul’s efforts to take the issue up at the U.N. Security Council.

“We will be supporting South Korea as it makes the decisions moving forward on matters such as the timing and contents (of approaching) the Security Council,” she said.

She also commended Seoul’s approach toward the incident for focusing on fact-finding before reaching any conclusions.

The secretary of state indicated independent measures from the Obama administration to punish the North, saying that the U.S. was “reviewing additional options to hold the North Korean leadership accountable.” 

Close consultations between the allies will continue regarding the Cheonan, the two ministers said.

Referring to plans for allied military drills, Clinton said the U.S. remains committed to defending South Korea and preserving regional stability.

Touching upon the stalled denuclearization process of North Korea, Yu and Clinton called for the reclusive regime to show a genuine willingness at denuclearization.

Further discussions between South Korea, China and Japan on the denuclearization issue and the Cheonan are expected when the leaders of the three nations meet for bilateral and three-way meetings Friday.

Pyongyang currently remains unwilling to return to the six-way talks designed to end its nuclear weapons programs.

Seoul has indicated that it does not want the talks to restart until the Cheonan case is fully resolved.

Clinton was scheduled to fly back to Washington later in the day to wrap up her Asian trip.

(jemmie@heraldcorp.com)





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