France’s Le Drian: China could woo N. Korea on talks
November 26, 2017
China has leverage to persuade North Korea to go back to talks over its nuclear ambitions, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday, after meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
North Korea’s rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles has fueled a surge in regional tensions as United Nations-led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change its behaviour.
Western diplomats have said that China is largely responsible for patchy enforcement.
But Beijing bristles at the notion that it should be doing more to rein in North Korea, which does about 90 percent of its trade with China, saying it is fully enforcing U.N.
sanctions and that everyone has a responsibility to lower tension and get talks back on track.
“We want to force the negotiations ... and it’s true that China is well placed to push,” Le Drian told reporters during a joint briefing with Wang after arriving in Beijing for a four-day visit.
A military solution was an “extreme” option, he said.
China advocates for a “dual suspension” plan to address the issue in which Pyongyang would halt its nuclear and missile programs and Washington would stop military exercises with its allies in the region, though U.S. President Donald Trump has ruled it out.
Wang said the proposition is “realistic and feasible.”
“France thought it was a real proposition but that the conditions to realize it have not been met. But if we don’t have the conditions we have to create the conditions,” Wang said.
Le Drian countered that he didn’t see it as the right approach.
“I don’t believe much in the double-suspension strategy, because first of all [North Korea] isn’t prepared to negotiate the very principle of this nuclear program,” Le Drian said.
Le Drian has said previously that bellicose statements by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have created fears of a dangerous miscalculation, particularly since Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.
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