China calls for US ‘flexibility’ with North Korea amid Washington’s anger over UN ‘silence’ | North Korea

China calls for US ‘flexibility’ with North Korea amid Washington’s anger over UN ‘silence’ | North Korea

China’s UN ambassador has called on the United States to be more flexible in its dealings with North Koreaen Beijing, along with others, refused to sign a US Security Council joint statement condemning Pyongyang’s missile launches.

Kim Jong-un’s regime implemented one unprecedented seven weapons tests in January, including firing its most powerful missile since 2017, when it hinted it could restart long-range and nuclear test explosions.

Washington had proposed a statement rejecting these launches, however China and Russia, along with other nations, refused to sign it, prompting the United States to say that the Council’s “ongoing silence” would encourage North Korea to further defy the international community.

Before convening a closed-door meeting at Washington’s request on Friday, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said the key to easing tensions with North Korea lay in US hands.

“If they want to see a new breakthrough, they should show more sincerity and flexibility,” Zhang said.

“They should come up with more attractive and more practical, more flexible approaches, policies and actions and address the concerns of the DPRK,” Zhang told reporters using the initials in the official name of the Nordic region.

The Chinese official noted that as a result of former US President Donald Trump’s policies toward North Korea, Pyongyang had suspended nuclear tests and international ballistic missile launches.

But in recent months, Zhang lamented, “we have seen a vicious circle of confrontation, condemnation, sanctions.”

China and Russia have blocked the Council’s action against North Korea, and last year proposed a resolution that would ease sanctions against Pyongyang on humanitarian grounds, but the draft has not been put to the vote due to lack of support.

“We are doing at least something to facilitate further improvements and avoid the escalation of tension,” Zhang said.

After the meeting, the US envoy to the world body, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that the Sino-Russian proposal to ease sanctions would effectively reward North Korea for what she called “bad behavior”.

“There is no reason for this advice to reward them for nine tests in a month and almost as many in previous years,” she told reporters.

“Spending millions of dollars on military tests when your people are starving indicates that this country does not care about its own people.”

Asked about Zhang’s call for increased US action, and whether Joe Biden should be directly involved in diplomacy, Thomas-Greenfield reiterated that the United States was willing to meet with North Korea without preconditions.

“But,” she added, “before we can oblige our president to meet, we need to have a better sense of what is to be achieved. I can not comment on what the Trump administration achieved. We have tested ballistic missiles through the last four years. It never stopped him. So we have to keep up the pressure. “

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

Friday’s meeting on North Korea was the third in a month.

In the last on 20 January, eight councilors – Albania, Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the United States – together with Japan issued a joint statement condemning the Nordic tests.

The other seven members – China, Gabon, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico and Russia – refused to sign.

On Friday, the same eight countries and Japan, again led by Washington, issued a new statement reiterating its call on North Korea to “cease its destabilizing actions and return to dialogue.”

“We continue to urge the DPRK to respond positively to the offers from the United States and others to meet without preconditions,” it said.

The statement also called on the other members of the Security Council to state that “the cost of the Council’s continued silence is too high”.

“It will encourage the DPRK to further defy the international community; to normalize its violations of Security Council resolutions; to further destabilize the region; and to continue to threaten international peace and security,” it read.

North Korea on Friday sent “warm congratulations” to its Chinese ally for the Beijing Olympics, a message that experts consider a likely signal of a halt to missile launch during the sporting event.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to hold trilateral talks in Hawaii on February 12 with South Korea and Japan on North Korea.

Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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