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China downplays influence over North Korea

Feb. 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM

BEIJING, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- China cautioned against overstating the amount of influence it has over the North Korean government, a U.N. official said.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson met with Chinese officials to discuss security concerns on the Korean Peninsula. He said that while China has a better relationship with North Korea than most other countries, Beijing didn't want to overplay its hand.

"There is much at stake, not only for the people of Korea, of both Koreas, but also for the region," he said in a statement. "The answer from my Chinese friends is that they will do what they can but that we should not exaggerate their influence."

Beijing is seen as one of the few members of the international community with significant influence with Pyongyang.

North Korea announced it conducted its third underground nuclear test Feb. 12. The test followed the launch of a long-range rocket in December. Similar launches coincided with 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the test in the strongest terms. Eliasson said he urged Beijing to convey the message to the North Korean leadership that the latest nuclear test was a dangerous development for the region.

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