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China blocks U.S. visit

China’s government this week blocked the visit to Beijing by Robert Einhorn, special State Department adviser on nonproliferation and arms control, who had planned to discuss China’s support for sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Mr. Einhorn was to be part of an Obama administration interagency team to “discuss sanctions implementation with regard to both North Korea and Iran,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

“The Chinese asked for a delay due to lack of availability of key interlocutors. We are working with them to reschedule,” he said.

A State Department official said later that the U.S. delegation will ask China to carry out a “conscientious implementation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea.

China has opposed sanctions in principle, favoring instead what Beijing calls “negotiations and diplomacy.”

U.S. officials are uncertain what is behind the recent cancellation of Mr. Einhorn’s visit but are concerned it is a sign that Beijing is having second thoughts about supporting U.S.-led diplomatic efforts for international pressure against the two states.

The United States imposed new sanctions against North Korea in August, targeting intelligence units and those trafficking in luxury goods.

The United Nations in June imposed its fourth round of sanctions against Iran to punish Tehran for its nuclear program. The U.N. resolution sought to bolster existing sanctions aimed at the economic, high-technology and military sectors. It calls for U.N. member states to chase Iranian ships suspected of carrying banned goods and also tries to increase pressure on banks and insurance firms to cut ties with Iran.

U.N. sanctions were imposed on North Korea in 2009 after the North’s second underground nuclear test. Those sanctions included the inspection of North Korean ships, a wider ban on arms sales and other financial measures.

U.S. officials said China has failed to enforce sanctions fully on either country, although some steps were taken.

China is North Korea’s main trading partner in fuel oil, and both countries’ Communist parties and militaries maintain close relations.

China’s opposition to Iran sanctions is based on extensive Chinese trade and economic dealings with Iran, specifically purchases of Iranian oil.

Chinese President Hu Jintao told President Obama in April that China would support sanctions on Iran.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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