North Korea is willing to consider a new disarmament agreement if the United States takes into account its security concerns, a senior Chinese official said on Tuesday.
Chinese and US officials, holding two days of wide-ranging talks in Washington, said they spoke at length about North Korea which in recent months has tested an atom bomb, fired missiles and bolted from a disarmament deal.
Wang Guangya, China’s vice foreign minister, said that Beijing welcomed an active role by the United States in reaching a solution on the Korean peninsula.
“China believes that if the package solution that the United States is thinking about accommodates reasonable security concerns, it will be attractive to the North Korean side,” Wang told reporters.
North Korea signed a 2007 deal with five countries -- the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia -- giving it pledges of non-aggression and badly needed aid in return for dropping its nuclear program.
North Korea has cited US “hostility” for its rejection of the deal. But many analysts speculate that Pyongyang’s actions are mostly a function of a brewing power struggle as leader Kim Jong-Il’s health falters.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she and China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo, a veteran negotiator with Pyongyang, spoke at length on “the Chinese perception both of North Korea but also of our interactions with them.”
“And I found that very useful indeed,” Clinton told reporters.
China is the closest ally of North Korea and served as the host of marathon six-way talks that reached the now-collapsed denuclearization deal.
China has also faced strong criticism in Washington, particularly among conservatives who say that Beijing could do more to rein in North Korea.