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US, China Discuss Moving North Korea Nuclear Talks Forward


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging China to use its influence to persuade North Korea to move forward with permanently dismantling its nuclear facilities. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Beijing Tuesday morning, for a full day of meetings with Chinese leaders.

At a news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Rice said the United States hopes China will use all influence possible to "convince the North Koreans it is time to move forward."

"We are at the cusp of something very special here," said Rice. "We have had a successful round in terms of the shut-down of the Yongbyon reactor. We have had progress on the disablement of those facilities. And now it's time to move on."

Under a stalled multi-country agreement, North Korea had agreed to provide a complete accounting of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007. In return, it would receive fuel oil and other aid.

Pyongyang says it has provided a list of its programs, but Washington says the information provided so far has not been acceptable.

North Korea maintains a large diplomatic mission in Beijing, but Rice ruled out talks with North Korean officials while in China.

Beijing has hosted a series of talks on the issue with the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Also, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang spoke on two other major international issues - Iran and the troubled Darfur region of Sudan. He says China already has exerted constructive efforts on Iran and Darfur and will continue to work with the international community to push forward a resolution to both issues.

China places importance on the issue of Taiwan, an independently-governed island that Beijing considers part of Chinese territory. Rice criticized the island's plans to hold a poll on Taiwan's entry into the United Nations.

"Well, Taiwan is a democratic entity that will have to make its own decisions," she said. "But we've been very clear that we think this referendum is not going to help anyone, and in fact it shouldn't be held."

In a more light-hearted exchange at the end of the news conference, Yang referred to the issue of food safety when he offered Rice some Chinese food.

Yang: I promise it's not only safe, but delicious.

Rice: Sounds good.

Chinese food products have been in international headlines recently, after a series of scandals involving tainted Chinese food exported to other countries.

Rice came to Beijing from Seoul, where she attended the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday. Wednesday, she travels to Tokyo.