US, China make important progress in UN sanctions on N. Korea

February 23, 2016
Secretary of State John Kerry, right, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Secretary of State John Kerry, right, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) — The United States and China have made important progress in negotiations to adopt a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests, the countries’ top diplomats said Tuesday.

“I would like to tell you that important progress has been made in the consultations, and we’re looking at the possibility of reaching an agreement on the draft resolution and passing it in the near future,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a joint news conference after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Once passed, we can effectively limit the DPRK’s program at the same time,” he said. The DPRK is the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kerry said a proposed resolution “is currently being evaluated by our teams in both Beijing and Washington.”

“The fact that it has reached a stage where it is being evaluated is significant. We have made significant progress that’s very constructive. There is no question that if it is approved, it will go beyond anything we have previously passed,” he said.

The remarks from Kerry and Wang raise hope for the Security Council to adopt a new sanctions resolution as early as this week.

Neither Kerry nor Wang provided any details on what would be included in the new resolution.

For more than a month since the North’s nuclear test, the U.S. Security Council has been struggling in negotiations to come up with a new sanctions resolution on the North because China has been reluctant to impose harsh measures on Pyongyang.

Amid the deadlock, the North flouted the Security Council again with a banned missile launch on Feb. 7.

Tuesday’s meeting between Kerry and Wang will be watched closely for a breakthrough in the negotiations.

Beijing has condemned the North’s nuclear and missile tests but has been lukewarm about calls for a stern response. Analysts have long said Beijing fears that pushing Pyongyang too hard could lead to its collapse, instability on its border and the ultimate emergence of a pro-U.S. nation.

Chinese cooperation is key to putting together any meaningful sanctions resolution and its implementation as it is one of the five veto-holding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and the main provider of food and fuel aid to the impoverished North.

Wang said that both China and the U.S. agree that they will neither accept the North’s missile programs nor recognize Pyongyang as a nuclear weapons state. But he also stressed the importance of dialogue and renewed his calls for holding peace treaty talks with Pyongyang in tandem with denuclearization negotiations.

“We have put forward a basic proposal: pursue parallel tracks to continue dialogue and towards a peace agreement,” Wang said. “China sees a two-track approach as a reasonable one. Addressing the denuclearization, as well as addressing the concerns of relevant parties.”

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