US envoy: 'Very strong consensus' with China on N Korea

US envoy: 'Very strong consensus' with China on N Korea

SEOUL/BEIJING – Agence France-Presse
US envoy: Very strong consensus with China on N Korea

A board which reads ?Highest Glory to the Great Mother Party,? is posted in Changjon Street, Central District of Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday Jan, 25, 2013. Following new U.N. sanctions punishing North Korea for a December rocket launch, North Korea warned that it would continue launching long-range rockets and conduct a nuclear test. AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon

The United States and China have "achieved a very strong degree of consensus" on North Korea, US envoy Glyn Davies said Friday after meetings in Beijing following Pyongyang saying it planned another nuclear test.

"We come here in the wake of some dramatic steps," he told reporters in Beijing. Referring to the North's earlier threat to take "physical counter-measures" against the South, he added that the comments were "troubling and counter-productive".

Davies, the US special representative for North Korea policy, said he had had wide-ranging discussions with Chinese officials on "all aspects of the North Korea issue", adding that the meeting "achieved a very strong degree of consensus".

Both sides agreed that "a nuclear test would be troubling and a setback to the efforts to denuclearise the Korean peninsula", he said.

They also agreed that UN resolution 2087, passed earlier this week expanding sanctions against Pyongyang, was an "appropriate response and an important and strong response" to the North's rocket launch last month.

As North Korea's main economic lifeline, China is seen as the only country with any genuine leverage over the impoverished, isolated and nuclear-armed state -- although Pyongyang has long-played on Chinese fears of the consequences of North Korea's collapse to defy Beijing's efforts.

The UN resolution was the product of long negotiations between Washington and Beijing, with envoys saying China had sought to shield Pyongyang from stronger sanctions.

In an unusually frank warning on Friday, China's state-run media indicated that Beijing would decrease aid to Pyongyang if it goes ahead with an atomic test.

"If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance," the Global Times, which is close to China's ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial.

"China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there," it added.

Pyongyang vows to strike Seoul this time

North Korea threatened Jan. 25 “physical counter-measures” against rival South Korea, the latest in a series of bellicose warnings sparked by a tightening of U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

“If the South Korean puppet regime of traitors directly participates in the so-called U.N. ‘sanctions,’ strong physical countermeasures would be taken,” the North’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Fatherland said.
The warning, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, came a day after North Korea’s top military body threatened to conduct a third nuclear test and boost its ability to strike the United States. The latest warning re-focused Pyongyang’s anger from Washington to Seoul.

“Sanctions amount to a declaration of war against us,” said the committee, which is the prime state body responsible for inter-Korean dialogue and exchange.

“As long as the South Korean puppet traitors’ regime continues with its anti-DPRK (North Korea) hostile policy, we will never sit down with them,” it said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was “fully prepared” for a test from Pyongyang. “But I hope... they determine that in the end, it is better to become a part of the international family,” Panetta said.

North Korea’s sole major ally China will decrease aid to Pyongyang if it goes ahead with a planned nuclear test, state-run media said in an unusually frank warning.

China is the North’s leading energy supplier and trade partner and is seen as one of the few nations able to influence Pyongyang’s behavior, with the comments adding a distinctive edge to its typical official calls for stability and dialogue.

“If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance to North Korea,” the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial. The editorial also expressed discontent at North Korean criticism of Beijing for backing a U.N. Security Council resolution this week that condemned Pyongyang’s rocket launch last month and imposed expanded sanctions.

The resolution only passed after lengthy negotiations between the U.S. and China, which wields a Security Council veto and sought to shield Pyongyang from tougher measures, envoys said.