US tells China to change line towards N Korea

Washington – US Secretary of State John Kerry urged China to end “business as usual” with North Korea after the isolated nation conducted its fourth nuclear test.

Kerry told reporters that he had spoken to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yim and had pointed out that China’s approach to North Korea had failed.

Kerry rejected a reporter’s suggestion that the Obama administration had neglected the North Korean threat as it focused on curbing Iran’s nuclear programme. He said there had been constant consultations on North Korea, including on his first trip to China after he became the top US diplomat in 2013.

“Now China had a particular approach that it wanted to make and we agreed and respected to give them the space to be able to implement that, but in my conversation with the Chinese I made it very clear, that it hasn’t worked and we can’t continue business as usual,” Kerry said, without elaborating.

The UN Security Council has pledged new sanctions against North Korea after its purported hydrogen bomb test on Wednesday.

China has a pivotal position as it is a permanent council member and the North’s main trading partner. Fraternal relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have become strained in recent years, but China has been reluctant to impose economic restrictions that could destabilise its wayward neighbour and cause turmoil on its border.

Kerry said he and Wang agreed to work very closely together on steps “to address our increasing concerns about that nuclear test.”

“China is willing to carry out communication with all relevant parties, including the United States,” Wang said. Meanwhile, pressure was mounting in Washington for congressional action to punish North Korea. The House of Representatives will vote as early as next week on legislation imposing new US sanctions. – AFP

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