The presidents of China and South Korea have concluded meetings in Beijing, saying they agree with sanctions against North Korea in response to the North's announced nuclear test. However, the two leaders did not reveal precisely what punishments they are willing to support.
China and South Korea, up to now North Korea's strongest supporters, have both condemned the North's claimed nuclear test and urged a U.N. response. However, both nations have balked at the type of tough sanctions that the United States and Japan have been pushing.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun traveled to Beijing for the day Friday and received a welcome from Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The Chinese leader said Roh's visit shows the great importance that he attaches to South Korea's relations with China.
Later, President Hu emerged from a 40-minute meeting with the South Korean leader saying the two had reached an important consensus on a response to North Korea's declared nuclear test.
Song Min-soon, a security advisor to the South Korean president, told reporters in Beijing the two leaders support sanctions, but he said they also agreed on the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula "in a stable manner."
Ralph Cossa, head of the Pacific Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu, explains why China and South Korea do not want to impose harsh sanctions on the North. He says neither side wants to destabilize the country, which both believe will happen if tough economic measures are imposed.
"They also have much more at stake if North Korea were to collapse," he said. "The South Koreans are concerned about how they would absorb the North and the Chinese are concerned about refugees pouring across the border."
As the two presidents met, the United Nations Security Council was debating a resolution proposed by the United States, calling for strict economic and weapons sanctions against the North. A vote on a resolution is expected soon.