China 'key' to tackling North Korea nuclear issue, U.S. official says

China is North Korea’s most important trading partner.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 20, 2016 at 9:24 AM
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SEOUL, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- China is key to supporting resolutions against North Korea provocations, the U.S. deputy secretary of state said Wednesday.

On the second day of his visit to South Korea, and while meeting with officials, Tony Blinken said "China has a special role given the special relationship it has with North Korea," Kyodo News reported.

"China shares our commitment and our conviction that North Korea must denuclearize," Blinken said, adding Beijing has "more leverage and more influence" over Pyongyang than any other country, and that it needs to play a "constructive role" regarding North Korea.

China is North Korea's most important trading partner, and Chinese exports, particularly crude oil products, are critical to the North Korean economy.

A South Korean analyst has stated in a report that North Korea could be thrown into chaos within a week if Beijing decides to cut energy supplies flowing through oil pipelines that run through the Chinese border city of Dandong.

Blinken told reporters in Seoul he would again request China to play a constructive role when he is in Beijing this week, ahead of State Secretary John Kerry's visit to China on Jan. 27, Yonhap reported.

The deputy secretary avoided direct references regarding powerful and more comprehensive sanctions, saying instead that the United States has "put everything on the table."

But discussions for stronger sanctions began in New York at the United Nations Security Council, and independently through partnerships with other countries, Blinken said.

Regarding the deployment of U.S. missile defense system THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, on the Korean peninsula, Blinken said no decision has been made but negotiations are to go ahead only in consultation with South Korea.

Blinken met with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam this week.

Lim told reporters that the two sides reconfirmed a joint goal that North Korea should be "made to pay a corresponding price for its misdeed."

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