China, Russia push Korea for N-talks
SEOUL: North Korea on Sunday came under increasing pressure from traditional allies China and Russia to return to multi-party talks on eliminating its nuclear weapons programme.
The diplomatic offensive came as the United States said the six-nation talks were the only appropriate forum for negotiations and South Korea said it would urge Beijing to use its influence with Pyongyang to bring the North back in. The isolated Stalinist regime on Thursday announced it possesses nuclear weapons and was dropping out of the multilateral talks, accusing the United States of planning to invade.
China at the weekend said it would maintain the pressure on the North, with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing telling US counterpart Condoleezza Rice that Beijing would keep working to jump-start the talks. “(China) will strive to make the situation develop in a positive direction so that the six-party talks could resume as soon as possible,” Li was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying in the telephone talks Saturday.
Russia, traditionally considered sympathetic to the North, issued an unusually strongly-worded statement that Pyongyang would have made the “wrong choice” if it decided to quit the discussions. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a meeting of security experts in the German city of Munich Saturday: “If the information in question proves accurate, I would say that North Korea has made the wrong choice.” “I believe we should do all we can to keep that state in the treaty framework.” The reactions highlighted growing US-led international pressure on the North since it claimed to have already developed nuclear weapons. Speaking in Washington, where he has been holding talks with US officials on the standoff, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon said Seoul would meanwhile try to persuade China to draw the North Koreans back to the talks. Ban was to meet Rice on Monday to discuss the issue. afp