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North Korea will not return to talks

North Korea refused China's appeal to return to nuclear talks as Japan, the U.S. “The Chinese are as baffled as we are,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said today in Beijing. “China has done so much for that country, and North Korea has taken all that generosity and given nothing back.” Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu is visiting Pyongyang to try to persuade North Korea to resume the talks, stalled since last November and put further in doubt after the country fired missiles into the Sea of Japan on July 5. China and Russia yesterday moved toward accepting stronger United Nations action to stop North Korea's ballistic missile program, introducing a resolution that the U.S. and Japan said is still too weak to win their support. North Korea last week defied international appeals and test-fired seven missiles, including a Taepodong 2 that may be able to reach Alaska. Chinese and Russian envoys at the UN circulated a draft resolution that “strongly deplores” North Korea's launch of the missiles and “calls” on all nations to prevent the government in Pyongyang from buying or selling missile technology. The two nations wanted a Security Council statement that lacks the authority of a resolution; the U.S. and Japan rejected that. North Korean officials today cut short the first negotiations with South Korea since launching the missiles. During the short-lived talks, South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jong Seok voiced the government's “strong protest” over the North's missile launch, the ministry said in a statement. “The responsibility rests solely on the South's side,” South Korea's Yonhap News cited the North Korean delegation as saying in a statement. “The South side will have to pay an appropriate price.” The inter-Korean talks are part of a series of discussions that started in 2000 aimed at promoting peace and eventual unification on the Korean peninsula. The new text the UN resolution omits language the U.S. and Japan proposed that legally bars North Korea from buying technology and threatens economic penalties and the use of force. Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said he would have vetoed that U.S.-backed draft. The sponsors yesterday delayed calling for a vote for two days to give China a chance to reach a diplomatic solution to the dispute. North Korea “remains unchanged in its will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in a negotiated, peaceful manner,” the official Korea Central News Agency said last week, citing the Foreign Ministry. “If anyone tries to make an issue of it or pressure us, we will take stronger physical measures.” Japan is steadfast in seeking a Security Council resolution that includes economic sanctions against North Korea, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said today. China reiterated its opposition to the Japanese proposal. “China believes the UN Security Council should focus on regional stability,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said during a regular briefing in Beijing. “We must protect Asia Pacific security. We believe the Japanese resolution is not conducive to these objectives and we object to it. China and Russia have an alternate proposal that focuses on regional security and peace.” “I'm confident in the end, it will be a very strong message,” Hill said this morning. “When you have a resolution in the UN at the last minute, you always have a lot of pushing and shoving.” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters yesterday the Chinese and Russian draft is weak because it doesn't say North Korea's missile launches are a “threat to international peace and security,” the standard for Security Council action. He said their version lacks the authority of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which provides for economic and diplomatic penalties and the use of force in the event the demand is ignored. The U.S.-backed resolution has that authority. “It goes a long way toward the wishes of some Security Council members,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. “It is a very good basis for a unified, strong signal that the Security Council needs to send.” (Bloomberg)