The Times West Virginian

World News

April 14, 2013

Goal of nuclear-free North Korea tests U.S., China ties

BEIJING — Bound by threats from North Korea, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to rid the bellicose nation of nuclear weapons in a test of whether the world powers can shelve years of rivalry and discord, and unite in fostering global stability.

Beyond this latest attempt to restrain North Korea, the burgeoning nuclear crisis has so frustrated the U.S. and China that they are forming a new and tentative bond with the potential to carry over into areas that have vexed them for decades.

But they will need to overcome the longstanding prickly relations between Beijing’s communist government and Washington’s free-market democracy. The two are economic competitors, and China is far more reluctant than the U.S. to intervene in international military conflicts.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday described a “synergy” between the two countries to achieve worldwide security and economic stability.

“We have a stake in China’s success. And frankly, China has a stake in the success of the United States,” Kerry told reporters in the Chinese capital. “And that became clear in all of our conversations here today. A constructive partnership that is based on mutual interest benefits everybody in the world.”

Kerry met with the new Chinese leaders to discuss a range of issues, most notably the persistent and increasingly pitched threats that North Korea has issued against the U.S., South Korea and Japan the over the past several months.

North Korea appears to be readying a missile test, in what the U.S. says would be its third since December, and there are varying opinions in Washington as to whether the North is able to develop and launch nuclear-tipped missiles.

One U.S. intelligence assessment suggested North Korea had the capacity to put a nuclear warhead on a missile, even if any such weapon would have low reliability.

Kerry and the Chinese foreign policy chief, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, said the two nations would work together to create a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, effectively forcing North Korea to give up its arsenal.

The reclusive North Korean government and its young leader, Kim Jong Un, are more likely to listen to China, its main economic and diplomatic partner and lifeline to the outside world, than anyone else.

Yang, through an interpreter, described China’s stance on North Korea as “clear cut” and called for resuming the six-nation talks that fell apart four years ago and are aimed at ending the nuclear threat.  

“China is firmly committed to upholding peace and stability and advancing the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula,” Yang told reporters. “We maintain that the issue should be handled and resolved peacefully through dialogue. ... To properly address the Korean nuclear issue serves the interests of all parties.”

But Kerry made clear that the U.S. would keep close watch on how China continues to deal with North Korea “to make sure that this is not rhetoric, but that it is real policy that is being implemented.”

North Korea was but one issue that was high on the priority list of discussions, Kerry said.

China and the U.S. have the two most powerful economies and are two of the largest energy users. They agreed to hold high-level talks on climate change and to ease business investment cooperation.

Kerry also raised the possibility of scaling back America’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific region once the Korean nuclear crisis is resolved. Beijing has been disgruntled about U.S. missile defense systems in China’s backyard.

“Obviously, if the threat disappears,” meaning a nuclear-free North Korea, “the same imperative does not exist at that point in time for us to have that kind of robust, forward-leaning posture of defense,” Kerry said. “And it is our hope in the short run that we can address that.”

Western experts predict that China will move slowly and cautiously, if at all, toward becoming a more reliable U.S. ally. China remains deeply skeptical of President Barack Obama’s policy shift to Asia, which Beijing views as U.S. attempts to contain its economic might.

It’s also unlikely that China will sever its long ties with North Korea. The Chinese dramatically have boosted trade with their neighbors and maintain close military relations some six decades after they fought side by side in the Korean War. They provide North Korea with most of its fuel and much of its food aid.

China has a history of quickly reversing course after talking tougher with North Korea. In late 2010, as American officials were praising Beijing for constructive efforts after the North shelled a South Korean island, a Chinese company agreed to invest $2 billion in a North Korean industrial zone.

“The U.S. has to be cautious in expecting a major breakthrough on North Korea out of the new Chinese leadership,” said Christopher Johnson, a former CIA analyst who is now a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “There’s a risk of too much exuberance on the U.S. side. ... The Chinese just can’t turn the battleship as quickly as we might like.”

But Johnson said even minor progress on North Korea could translate into a warming between Washington and Beijing, which appears now to be “at least willing to talk.”

“If we can talk on an issue that is as sensitive as North Korea, we can talk about other issues,” Johnson said. “It speaks very well for other touchy issues in the relationship at the moment.”

1
Text Only
World News
  • Obama offers Europe, Mideast allies assurances

    From the heart of Europe to the expanse of Saudi Arabia’s desert, President Barack Obama’s weeklong overseas trip amounted to a reassurance tour for stalwart, but sometimes skeptical, American allies.
    At a time when Obama is grappling with crises and conflict in both Europe and the Middle East, the four-country swing also served as a reminder that even those longtime partners still need some personal attention from the president.

    March 30, 2014

  • New objects seen, but no evidence of jet

    A day after the search for the Malaysian jetliner shifted to a new area of the Indian Ocean, ships on Saturday plucked objects from the sea to determine whether they were related to the missing jet. None were confirmed to be from the plane, leaving searchers with no sign of the jet three weeks after it disappeared.

    March 30, 2014

  • Security forces storm protester-held Egypt mosque and round up hundreds

    Egyptian security forces stormed a Cairo mosque Saturday after a heavy exchange of gunfire with armed men shooting down from a minaret, rounding up hundreds of supporters of the country’s ousted president who had sought refuge there overnight after violent clashes killed 173 people.

    August 18, 2013

  • Hundreds reported killed as Egypt smashes protests

    In Egypt’s bloodiest day since the Arab Spring began, riot police Wednesday smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president, touching off street violence that officials said killed nearly 300 people and forced the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and curfew.

    August 15, 2013

  • Seven Saudis among militants killed by drones

    At least seven suspected militants from Saudi Arabia were among the alleged al-Qaida members killed in Yemen in a recent wave of U.S. drone strikes, senior Yemeni officials said Friday, suggesting that Saudis are increasingly crossing the border to carry funds or seek terrorist training.

    August 10, 2013

  • Yemen terror boss left blueprint for waging jihad

    A year before he was caught on an intercept discussing the terror plot that prompted this week’s sweeping closure of U.S. embassies abroad, al-Qaida’s top operative in Yemen laid out his blueprint for how to wage jihad in letters sent to a fellow terrorist.

    August 10, 2013

  • U.S. sharply escalates its drone war in Yemen

    The U.S. has sharply escalated its drone war in Yemen, with military officials in the Arab country reporting 34 suspected al-Qaida militants killed in less than two weeks, including three strikes on Thursday alone in which a dozen died.

    August 9, 2013

  • Nine Afghans killed in attack on Indian consulate

    Three suicide bombers tried to attack the Indian consulate in an eastern Afghan city on Saturday, sparking a shootout with guards on a bustling downtown street that left at least nine civilians dead, official said.

    August 3, 2013

  • U.S. diplomat in Egypt holds talks with rival sides

    Egypt’s Interior Ministry warned supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Saturday for a second time to abandon their protest camps as a senior U.S. diplomat met with officials on both sides of the country’s political divide.

    August 3, 2013

  • In Egypt bloodshed, dozens of Morsi supporters are killed

    Security forces and armed men clashed with supporters of Egypt’s ousted president early Saturday, killing at least 65 people in mayhem that underscored an increasingly heavy hand against protests demanding Mohammed Morsi’s return to office.

    July 28, 2013

Featured Ads
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads