China and Russia have offered a compromise U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at avoiding a showdown with Japan and western countries over North Korea. But Japan reacted coolly to the proposal.
The Russian-Chinese draft resolution is far softer in tone than the legally-binding measure introduced by Japan, the United States and six other Security Council members following North Korea's ballistic missile tests. It urges Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear program, but drops mandatory sanctions and language that could lead to future military action.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the alternative draft should go a long way toward meeting the concerns of the eight co-sponsors of the Japanese measure. "We think that it forms a good basis for a unified strong signal which the Security Council needs to send under these circumstances, and it is a good support for ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation around North Korea," he said.
Co-sponsors of the Japanese proposal huddled together Wednesday to consider the Russian/Chinese alternative. U.S. envoy John Bolton called it significant that, after days of objections, Moscow and Beijing had accepted the need for a strong formal response to the North Korean missile tests.
"Now they have introduced a draft resolution which puts us on an apples to apples and oranges to oranges basis, now we can talk about a resolution, which is the appropriate measure though which the Security Council should act," he said.
But after an initial look at the compromise proposal, Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said he doubts it will be acceptable. "A quick glance shows very serious gaps on very important issues. So we will study the text, but I believe it is going to be difficult to accept that as it is," he said.
The Russian-Chinese proposal follows days of wrangling that has prevented the Security Council from responding to North Korea's ballistic missile tests.
Negotiations had been placed on hold after China threatened to veto the Japanese proposal, and asked for time to see the results of a high-level Chinese diplomatic mission to Pyongyang.
But early indications from the Chinese mission are not promising. A senior American diplomat who had flown to Beijing to support the initiative flew home, calling Pyongyang's stance "discouraging".
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya confirmed Wednesday that there was no good news from the delegation. "While they were there, they sent message from top leadership of China to the North Koreans of our concerns over their missile tests, and also what we considered that the North Koreans should do that would make diplomacy succeed. This is what China has done. So far we have not received any feedback from the North Korea leadership," he said.
The Chinese envoy said the diplomatic mission is due back in Beijing Friday.