- Associated Press - Monday, July 25, 2011

SHENZHEN, China — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton moved Monday to reassure Asian financial markets that the United States will solve its debt crisis, as she sought China’s help in pressing North Korea to resume nuclear disarmament talks and easing tensions in the South China Sea.

After delivering a speech in Hong Kong where she maintained that the U.S. economy is sound despite its current woes and the debt deadlock, Mrs. Clinton drove to China’s southern mainland city of Shenzhen for four hours of talks with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Beijing’s top foreign policy official.

World financial markets are warily watching developments in Washington toward avoiding an unprecedented debt default on Aug. 2. China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, is particularly concerned. Asian stocks were down early Monday because of nervousness about the situation.

“The political wrangling in Washington is intense right now,” Mrs. Clinton said.

“But these kinds of debates have been a constant in our political life throughout the history of our republic. Sometimes they are messy … but this is how an open and democratic society ultimately comes together to reach the right solution.

“So I am confident that Congress will do the right thing and secure a deal on the debt ceiling and work with President Obama to take steps necessary to improve our long-term fiscal outlook.”

In Shenzhen, the officials said Mrs. Clinton would deliver a broader message to Mr. Dai about U.S. economic stability and raise issues she discussed last week at an Asian security forum in Indonesia.

Those include renewed dialogue between North and South Korea; her invitation to a senior North Korean official to visit the United States to discuss the possible resumption of multiparty nuclear negotiations; and U.S. concerns about rising tensions between China and its neighbors over competing claims in the South China Sea.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private diplomatic discussions, said Mrs. Clinton would tell Mr. Dai of Washington’s “strong interest in making sure that China is conveying to North Korea our determination to see real progress if we’re to move forward and not simply business as usual.”

The official said the United States expects China to play a strong-behind-the-scenes role in pushing the North Koreans to repair ties with the South and commit to serious negotiating over getting rid of its nuclear weapons.

After the meeting, a senior U.S. official said Washington believes that China is weighing in strongly with the North Koreans in what may well be a last chance to deal with the North.

On Sunday, Mrs. Clinton announced that she had invited North Korea’s vice foreign minister to visit New York on Thursday and Friday.



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