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US Envoy Says North Korea Not Responding to Diplomacy

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill says North Korea is not responding to diplomatic initiatives to resolve the crisis set off by Pyongyang's July 5 missiles launches.  As Hill wraps up an emergency visit to Asia where he has struggled to build a united response to the launches.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says North Korea has not responded to China's efforts to bring them to the negotiating table. He called Pyongyang's attitude "discouraging."

"China's really trying. We are trying. Everyone is trying, except, unfortunately, the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]," said Hill.

Hill says Chinese officials in Pyongyang have yet to get all of the appointments they requested. The United States had hoped that China could use its leverage as North Korea's chief supplier of food and fuel to convince Pyongyang to return to talks on its nuclear-weapons programs.

Hill was dispatched to Asia to coordinate a response to North Korea's July 5 missile tests in the Sea of Japan.

The United Nations has delayed voting on a U.S.-backed Japanese resolution to sanction North Korea. Pyongyang's neighbors are divided on the issue.

It appears little progress was made on a consensus response.

China urged the United States to comply with Pyongyang's demand to lift financial sanctions against North Korean businesses. Pyongyang has made that a condition of returning to nuclear talks.

But Hill rejected that demand, and repeated Washington's position that the restrictions are a response to illegal money laundering and are not related to the missile and nuclear issues.

At the last round of talks in September, North Korea promised in principle to dismantle its nuclear programs in return for economic aid. There has been no progress on how to implement these pledges.

Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Shinzo Abe, reaffirmed Tokyo's call for tough sanctions against the North. But Abe said that eight U.N. Security Council members, including the U.S. and Japan, have agreed not to set a deadline for a vote on sanctions.

"While our policy of aiming towards a rapid vote has not changed, Japan and the United States have agreed that there should be no set deadline. But if nothing has been accomplished after a reasonable period of time, then we still want to see the resolution adopted," noted Abe.

China, like Russia, opposes sanctions on North Korea. South Korea wants the international community to condemn the North's missile launches, but says sanctions are not the way to go now.

Meanwhile, during their first ministerial-level meeting since the missile tests, the South told North Korea the launches could hurt efforts to build relations between the two governments. North Korea's negotiators repeated its request for food aid.

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