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U.S., China strike deal on U.N. rebuke of North Korea

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Published : 2013-01-20 20:36
Updated : 2013-01-20 20:36

UNITED NATIONS ― The United States and China have struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea for its December rocket launch, U.N. diplomats said, and Russia predicted it would be approved by the council.

The resolution would not impose new sanctions, but would call for expanding existing U.N. sanctions measures against Pyongyang, the envoys said on condition of anonymity. They added that China’s support for the move would be a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.

The 15-nation council could adopt the compromise resolution next week, they said.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin confirmed the diplomats’ comments in remarks quoted by the Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency, saying that adoption was likely early this week.

“I expect we will support it,” RIA quoted Churkin as saying. “I don’t expect that the U.N. Security Council members will have any serious problems (with the resolution).”

“Our position is that the North Korean rocket launch is a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, so the council should react,” he said.

South Korea gave a guarded welcome to the tentative agreement.

“Although we (the government) may not be fully satisfied with the outcome, (we) will have to welcome it if it can help restrain the unpredictable North’s ultra-provocative action,” said a government spokesman in Seoul, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the diplomatic negotiations.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, agreed Friday that the U.N. Security Council should work out a strong measure against North Korea “as expeditiously as possible.”

“On North Korea, we shared our joint commitment to strong action in the U.N. Security Council,” Clinton said at a joint press conference with Kishida after their talks here.

It was the first meeting between the two since Japan embraced the conservative government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month.

“I also assured the foreign minister that we would continue to support Japan’s efforts to return Japanese citizens who have been abducted by the DPRK (North Korea),” Clinton said.’

The Japanese minister also said, “Specifically referring to the missile launch last December, we agreed to continue with our close cooperation so that the United Nations Security Council takes effective measures as expeditiously as possible.”

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea with a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option.

Beijing had wanted the council to merely issue a statement calling for the council’s North Korea sanctions committee to expand the existing U.N. blacklists, diplomats said.

The tentative deal, they said, was that Washington would forgo the idea of immediate new sanctions, while Beijing would accept the idea of a resolution instead of a statement, which makes the rebuke more forceful.

Assuming the North Korea sanctions committee agrees to expand existing measures, the resolution will ultimately lead to more stringent sanctions against Pyongyang.

“It might not be much but the Chinese move is significant,” a council diplomat said. “The prospect of a (new) nuclear test might have been a game changer (for China).”

(From news reports)

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