WASHINGTON, D.C./BEIJING – The United States wants China to put pressure on North Korea to be more constructive in talks with Washington, a Pentagon official announced. In doing so, the US wants China to improve its enforcement of sanctions on Pyongyang and take other measures, the senior defense official for Asia told a Washington conference on Tuesday, according to PressTV.
“We want them to do better,” Randall Schriver, the US assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, stated, adding, “At a minimum, sanctions enforcement, but I think there are other ways China could help pressure Pyongyang into being a more constructive participant in the talks, should they resume, and we are just not seeing this right now.”
Schriver was referring to the US’ intention to revive talks seeking to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. North Korea, currently under multiple rounds of harsh sanctions by the United Nations (UN) and the US over its nuclear and missile programs, put a unilateral halt to its missile and nuclear tests — with the exception of a few test-launches recently — shortly before a diplomatic thaw began between Pyongyang and Seoul in early 2018.
That thaw later led to two summits between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss the demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula, the first of which was held in Singapore in June last year and the second in Vietnam in February. The talks made little progress, largely due to the Washington’s insistence on Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization before the removal of any US sanctions.
Pyongyang, on the other hand, has called for a step-by-step approach that would include verifiable American commitment to end its massive military presence near North Korean territorial waters. In response to Schriver’s comments, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it has always fulfilled its duty concerning UN resolutions on North Korea.
“China has been persistent in earnestly carrying out its duty in the resolutions related to North Korea. The concerned countries should all also completely carry out (the Security Council’s) aforementioned resolutions,” stated Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, at a daily press briefing.
“The Korean Peninsula’s denuclearization discussion is at a critical moment. We hope that all the concerned sides will continue to uphold the hard-earned ease in tensions and momentum in dialogue, (and) equitably push for progress in a political solution,” he added.