News / Asia

Clinton Calls on China to Help Punish North Korea



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with South Korea's president and other top officials, as efforts get underway to rally global support for measures against North Korea.  Western investigators accuse the North of a deadly naval attack.

Secretary of State Clinton took a positive approach Wednesday toward what many view as an uphill battle in convincing China to help punish North Korea. "I believe that the Chinese understand the seriousness of this issue and are willing to listen to the concerns expressed by both South Korea and the United States," she said.

A multinational investigative team concluded last week a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine was responsible for sinking a South Korean patrol ship in March, killing 46 sailors.  Clinton expressed what she called "greatest admiration" for South Korea's restraint in avoiding an emotional response.  She says the thorough and scientific probe it conducted should be helpful in persuading China.

"We hope that China will take us up on our offer to really understand the details of what happened and the objectivity of the investigation that led to the conclusions," Mrs. Clinton stated.

China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, where South Korea intends to call for new international sanctions against Pyongyang. It has been a historical lifeline of food and fuel to impoverished North Korea, but -- on a more practical level -- is reluctant to do anything that might destabilize the country and create a security threat right next door.

In a joint news conference with Clinton, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said he too believes the investigation report will bring even hesitant nations around.

He says it may take time in the case of China and Russia, but that they cannot deny the facts forever.

Beyond punishing the North for unacceptable behavior, Secretary Clinton called upon the international community to get North Korea to change course. "There's a different path for North Korea.  And, we believe it's in everyone's interest, including China, to make a persuasive case for North Korea to change direction," she said. "They need to look internally toward what they can do to improve the standing of their own people and provide for a different future."

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Friday.

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