John Kerry and Wang Yi shake hands in Washington on Feb. 23. Photo: Getty Images
The United States and China made progress Tuesday toward a draft UN sanctions resolution to punish North Korea for its recent nuclear tests and push it back to the negotiating table.
After talks in Washington, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry said the draft was still being "evaluated" by officials before being submitted to the UN Security Council.
But both powers vowed that they would not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea and expressed confidence the resolution would be strong enough to force Kim Jong-Un's isolated regime to reconsider its strategy.
The North Korea, who carried out its nuclear test in January, insists it was merely launching a satellite and that its space program is purely scientific in nature, but the US, South Korea and China say such rocket launches are aimed at developing inter-continental ballistic missiles.
Shortly after the launch, South Korea talked with the US over the deployment of a missile defence system to counter the threat from the North.
Both men said the goal of the resolution is not to worsen the standoff with Kim Jong-un's isolated regime, but to persuade it to resume talks on ending his nuclear program.
"There is no question that if the resolution is approved, it will go beyond anything that we have previously passed," Kerry said.
Kerry said there would be no need to deploy the missile defense system, known as Thaad, if North Korea agrees to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The US maintains about 28,500 troops in South Korea and China sees any additional troops or weapons systems as a threat to its security interests in Asia.
Beijing has been more cautious than Washington in its approach and has expressed concern that sending the system to South Korea could upset regional power balances and strain its ties with Seoul.
China's approach is to maintain the balance between South and North Korea for the stable development of the Northestern Asia, Cai Jian, professor with Fudan University told the Sino-US.com via email.
But North's nuclear test has disrupted the balance and offered the US an excuse to strengthen its alliance with South, posing a threat to China's strategic interests in the region, Cai said.
Compared with US tough stranglehold on North Korea, China is pressuring the North in hopes that it could be back to the negotiating table, Cai added.