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February 29, 2012

China Welcomes US-N. Korea Deal

by Stephanie Ho

China is welcoming a deal between the United States and North Korea, under which Pyongyang says it will suspend nuclear tests and uranium enrichment. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday, China hopes the agreement leads to the speedy resumption of the six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Hong says China saw the U.S.-North Korean dialogue as “serious and constructive.”  However, now he says the most important task is for all parties concerned to make concrete efforts to push forward the six-party talks process, which has been stalled for more than two years.


In addition to China, the United States and North Korea, the other members of the six-party grouping are South Korea, Japan and Russia.


The latest deal, announced Wednesday, was reached after U.S. and North Korean negotiators met for two days last week in Beijing.


The United States has agreed to provide 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance to North Korea. The White House has said the American aid is not contingent on the agreements to move forward with denuclearization.


Beijing's Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong says he thinks the latest deal shows that North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un, will act in ways very similar to his father, who passed away in December.


He says Kim Jong Un can “play tricks” or “show flexibility” when he wants to, to obtain his objectives.  Still, Shi points to past broken agreements, saying that, although Americans have been satisfied with North Korea for a brief period, they have also been disillusioned many times.


He calls the latest agreement a “pretty big deal,” but cautions that similar agreements were reached, and then broken, when Kim Jong Il was alive.


The Chinese professor says he is not surprised that the White House is hailing the news because President Obama can show Americans that he can solve these kinds of problems, which will be important as he campaigns for re-election.


On balance, Shi says he is optimistic and views the latest moves positively.  However, he adds, he is positive only within the limits of past experience.