China says US should do more to reduce tensions in North Korea

Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun addresses the United Nations Security Council, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun addresses the United Nations Security Council, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


China’s UN ambassador said on Friday that the United States should come up with “more attractive and practical” policies and actions to reduce tensions with North Korea and avoid a return to a “vicious circle” of confrontation, condemnation and sanctions regarding its nuclear and ballistic missile programme. .

Zhang Jun said the solution lies in direct dialogue and that if the Biden administration wants to see a breakthrough with Pyongyang “it should show more sincerity and flexibility.”

In rare remarks to reporters on Beijing’s views on the US-North Korea nuclear dispute, the Chinese ambassador said: “What I see is that the key to solving this problem is already in the hands of the United States”.

Asked what else the US should do since it has already said it is ready to talk with North Korea, Zhang referred to the talks between then-US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore and Hanoi.

“We saw the suspension of nuclear testing, we saw the suspension of intercontinental ballistic missile launches” by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea, he said. “And then what was done by the United States?

Zhang said the Biden administration should be asked “how it can respond to DPRK concerns…to really lower the tension and then get things under control.”

Zhang spoke before joining a closed session of the UN Security Council convened by the United States following North Korea’s latest test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching US territory from Guam. The United States had sought the 15-member council’s approval of a press release condemning the launch, one of nine record tests in January, as a violation of council resolutions and sanctions.

After the consultations, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield read a joint statement on behalf of eight council allies, joined by Japan, calling the Jan. 30 launch a “significant escalation” in recent violations by South Korea. North of UN resolutions. He called on North Korea “to cease its destabilizing actions” and to “respond positively to offers from the United States and others to meet without preconditions.”

The signatories also urged “all council members to speak with one voice in condemning these dangerous and illegal acts.”

“The cost of the council’s continued silence is too high,” the statement said. “It will encourage the DPRK to challenge the international community more; normalize its violations of Security Council resolutions; further destabilize the region; and continue to threaten international peace and security. This is a result that we should not accept.

The statement was signed by council members: Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, Norway, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. The seven council members who have not signed are China, Russia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Ghana and Gabon.

Asked about Zhang’s call for enhanced US action and whether President Joe Biden should get directly involved in diplomacy, Thomas-Greenfield reiterated that the US is open to meeting with North Korea. without preconditions.

“But,” she added, “before we can commit our president to a meeting, we need to have a better idea of ​​what needs to be accomplished. I can’t comment on what the Trump administration has “We’ve had ballistic missile testing for the last four years. It’s never stopped it. So we have to keep the pressure on.”

She said that so far “we have not been able to bring them to the diplomatic table for any discussion.”

Zhang called it a “critical moment” and said all parties involved, including members of the Security Council, “should remain cautious in their words and actions” and avoid further escalation of tensions.

“We have seen a vicious circle – confrontation, condemnation, punishment, then back to condemnation, confrontation and punishment,” Zhang said. “So what will be the ending?”

He said that’s why China and Russia, which border North Korea and have friendly relations with Pyongyang, proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution in November that would lift some sanctions. He highlighted the North’s economic difficulties and called for the lifting of sanctions which include a ban on seafood and textile exports, a cap on imports of refined petroleum products and a ban on its citizens working in the abroad and send their income back home.

“We don’t think this draft resolution will solve all the problems,” Zhang said. “But then, at least we are doing something to facilitate continued improvement and avoid escalating tension.”

Asked whether the Security Council should respond to the nine missile launches by the DPRK in January, Zhang said council members were still consulting.

“The question is how we can keep the situation under control and avoid escalation, further escalation, loss of control of the situation and avoid falling back into a vicious circle,” he said. “That’s the point.”

Zhang said the answer was in the hands of the United States.

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