BEIJING – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged China today to work with the United States to coordinate a response to the sinking of a South Korean warship, which has been blamed on North Korea.
Opening two days of high-level U.S.-China talks in Beijing, Clinton said North Korea must be held to account for the incident, which international investigators have determined was caused by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine.
China is North Korea’s main ally and has thus far remained neutral on the investigation. U.S. officials say they have more work to do to convince China that North Korea was responsible for the ship sinking.
Clinton called the situation with North Korea a “matter of urgent concern.”
“Today, we face another serious challenge provoked by the sinking of the South Korean ship. So we must work together … to address this challenge and advance our shared objectives of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” she said.
“We ask North Korea to stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats and belligerence toward its neighbors and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments and comply with international law,” Clinton said.
In Seoul, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said his country will take the case to the U.N. Security Council today.
“North Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts,” he said. “I will continue to take stern measures to hold the North accountable.”
Clinton also called on China to continue work with the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council to draft new sanctions on Iran to press it to come clean on its nuclear program.
“The United States and China have consulted closely on the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program,” Clinton said. “The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran concerns us all.”
She said a draft resolution that the U.S. and China have agreed on “sends a clear message to the Iranian leadership: Live up to your obligations or face growing isolation and consequences. As we continue to cooperate in New York, the burden is Iran to demonstrate through its actions that it will uphold its responsibilities.”
Clinton was joined onstage at China’s Great Hall of the People by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo. Neither Wang nor Dai specifically mentioned North Korea or Iran, but Dai made clear in that China would not support any attempt to provoke conflict.
Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke of the responsibilities shared by the United States and China for “managing regional hotspots” and “safeguarding world peace and security.”