Dialogue reaffirms views on North

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Dialogue reaffirms views on North

U.S. President Barack Obama met with senior Chinese officials including Vice Premier Liu Yandong in Washington to discuss the situation in Pyongyang, agreeing that North Korea could not accomplish its plan for economic revival without abandoning its nuclear aims.

The White House said in a statement on Wednesday that Obama met with the Chinese delegation, which also included Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, to participate in the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, in which they reiterated their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. and Chinese officials “discussed the fundamental importance of demonstrating to North Korea that it will not succeed in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and its economy simultaneously,” the statement said, referring to North Korea’s policy objective to advance its economy alongside a robust nuclear weapons program.

The talks were a follow-up to previous discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials as Washington increases pressure on Pyongyang, and come ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled state visit to Washington in September.

Last week, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Russel made similar remarks during a briefing on the upcoming meeting with China.

“North Korea harbors the fantasy that it can have its cake and eat it, too,” Russel said. “North Korea is hoping to be able to rescue itself from the economic failure of its system through external aid while simultaneously and brazenly carrying forward with its nuclear and missile program.”

“Negotiations to end [North Korea’s] nuclear program,” he emphasized, “are the only path available to them that allows for economic growth.”

In a statement Thursday by its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, North Korea loudly protested the launch of a United Nations human rights office in Seoul, warning President Park Geun-hye of “catastrophic consequences” for North-South relations.

President Park held talks with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein later that day at the Blue House to discuss the dire human rights situation in North Korea. On Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights opened a field office at the Seoul Global Center to monitor the North Korean human rights situation, which was based on a recommendation by a 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report detailing the heinous crimes perpetuated by the North Korean regime.

“North Korea is the only country to have conducted nuclear weapons tests in the 21st century. At present, its nuclear weapons programs are the most serious challenge to the global non-proliferation regime,” Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Thursday at a two-day meeting by the Group of Eminent Persons for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Hosted in Seoul, the gathering runs until today.

“Despite international efforts, it is going down a misguided and anachronistic path, arguing that it can have both guns and butter,” he continued.

His language mirrored that by U.S. officials, who often are quoted as saying that Pyongyang “can’t have its cake and eat it, too.”

Additionally, he pointed out concerns over Pyongyang’s latest threats, including its test-fire of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which he called “an example of its efforts to upgrade nuclear and missile capabilities.” The minister further urged North Korea to sign and ratify the CTBT, adopted in 1996.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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