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(LEAD) U.S. to use strategic talks with China to ensure pressure on N. Korea: Russel

All News 06:00 June 01, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with State Department comment on N. Korean official's visit to China)

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Yonhap) -- The United States will use next week's annual strategic talks with China to ensure Beijing's cooperation in pressuring North Korea to agree to negotiate an end to its nuclear program, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel made the remark during a briefing to preview the eighth session of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) set for early next week in Beijing.

"One of the things that we will and do talk about -- and the S&ED provides a platform for that -- is the practical question of how to ensure that the pressure that is built on an international basis on North Korea culminates in the outcomes that we want, which is, as I've said, not to bring North Korea to its knees, but to its senses," Russel said.

Russel also said that China is a co-author of the latest U.N. Security Council sanctions on Pyongyang, which are considered the toughest ever to be imposed on the North, and China has expressed its determination to fully carry out the sanctions.

"The outcome that we're looking for is North Korean agreement to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That's not unconditional surrender," Russel said.

"That is a reasonable and consistent objective of ours. We have a vastly improved chance of getting there with China's full cooperation and we intend to use the S&ED to game out how we can speed up the outcome that we're both working to achieve," he added.

Russel rejected the term "strategic patience" to refer to the U.S. policy on the North.

"I think that was at the time a badly misunderstood concept, and right now I think the phrase that captures our strategy more succinctly is U.N. Security Council Resolution 2270," he said, referring to the latest U.N. sanctions on the North.

Meanwhile, the State Department declined comment on a visit to China by a high-level North Korean delegation led by former Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong, who is currently vice chairman of the central committee of the North's ruling Workers' Party.

Ri's visit drew keen attention because he's the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit Beijing since North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January. The widespread view is that he would seek to warm relations with Beijing at a time of growing international pressure on Pyongyang.

On Tuesday, Ri held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Song Tao, minister of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party, and they agreed to "strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the two parties," the Chinese Communist Party said in a statement.

Ri and Song also agreed on the "promotion of regional peace and stability," according to the statement.

Sources said Ri could meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.


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