U.S. and allies urge China to rein in North Korea

By Arshad Mohammed and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (BestGrowthStock) – China must do more to rein in North Korea’s belligerence, the United States and its chief Asian allies, said on Monday, after Beijing said tensions could “spin out of control.”

In a show of support for South Korea after the North’s shelling of one of its islands killed four people on November 23, Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, is poised to leave to meet security officials in Seoul.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts, saying all three shared grave concerns over “provocative attacks from North Korea” and putting the onus on China to take action.

“China, as a vital partner in maintaining regional stability, a country with unique and strong ties with North Korea, and chair of the six-party talks, has a special role to play in helping to shape North Korea’s behavior,” Clinton told a news conference with Japan’s Seiji Maehara and South Korea’s Kim Sung-hwan.

Maehara said all three countries hoped for more cooperation from Beijing and Moscow, which have appeared less eager to get tough with Pyongyang.

“China has an important role to play, and I think this perspective is shared by Russia,” he said.

China, which supported North Korean Communist forces in the 1950-53 Korean War, views the country as a strategic buffer against the United States and its allies and is the North’s largest trade partner and benefactor.

China was not invited to the meeting in Washington.

While Clinton said the United States was open to resuming talks — which include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, she said North Korea must first demonstrate it is serious about ending its belligerence and keeping its 2005 commitment to abandon its nuclear programs.

“They need to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose in ending their provocations and let the world know that they are now ready to come to the table and fulfill the commitments that they have already made,” she said.

“PEACE, NOT WAR”

The White House said Obama, in a telephone call with Hu, urged Beijing to work with the United States and others to “send a clear message to North Korea that its provocations are unacceptable.”

The conversation between Obama and Hu took place as South Korea started live-fire naval exercises, 13 days after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island, close to a disputed maritime demarcation line.

China’s foreign (Read more about foreign investment into China) ministry said Hu told Obama: “Especially with the present situation, if not dealt with properly, tensions could well rise on the Korean peninsula or spin out of control, which would not be in anyone’s interest.”

“We need an easing, not a ratcheting up; dialogue, not confrontation; peace, not war,” Hu was quoted as saying.

Analysts said Hu’s comments showed greater urgency but that China was reluctant to lean too hard on the North, which is in the midst of a leadership transition, for fear of a collapse that could send refugees streaming across its border.

(Additional reporting by Danbee Moon and Jeremy Laurence in Seoul and Andrew Quinn and Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Christopher Wilson)

U.S. and allies urge China to rein in North Korea