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Ex-official: Obama administration proposed talks with China on North Korea collapse

By
Elizabeth Shim
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) talks with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on February 11, 2015. Blinken said the Obama administration offered to talk about preparations for a potential North Korea collapse, but Beijing did not respond to the call. Pool Photo by Andy Wong/UPI
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) talks with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on February 11, 2015. Blinken said the Obama administration offered to talk about preparations for a potential North Korea collapse, but Beijing did not respond to the call. Pool Photo by Andy Wong/UPI | License Photo

July 17 (UPI) -- The Obama administration requested China's cooperation on a key matter related to North Korea: the possible event of regime collapse.

Tony Blinken, the former U.S. deputy secretary of state, told Japan's Asahi Shimbun the administration proposed discussions on preparing for a future collapse of the Kim Jong Un regime, the newspaper reported Monday.

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China, however, did not respond to the call, Blinken said.

The request was forwarded to Beijing sometime during Blinken's term in office, between December 2014 and January 2017, according to the report.

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The call for consultation was made during a meeting with a senior Chinese official.

Blinken said the discussion was proposed not because there was a high likelihood of collapse, but because such an event could occur "at any time."

The former U.S. diplomat was quoted as saying prior consultation is extremely important.

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The Japanese press report also stated President Barack Obama relayed the administration's view on North Korea regime collapse to then president-elect Donald Trump, during their first meeting in November, following Trump's election victory.

Blinken also said during the interview Kim continues to purge senior officials in order to consolidate his power, which raises the possibility the officials "could act first," or stage a coup or attempt to remove Kim.

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The former U.S. official said China expressed interest on the issue, but may have not responded to calls for consultation because the move could unnerve Pyongyang.

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Blinken proposed China take part in a basic plan that has been prepared by the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Kim maintains a strong grip on the country, and has called for more restrictive measures.

North Korea may have recently installed high-voltage electric fencing at its border with China, and sources in the country say some have died while trying to cross the border.

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