- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2006

BEIJING — China reportedly won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il not to conduct another nuclear test and at the same time blocked bank transfers to the isolated state.

“In this entire 30-year history of the North Korean nuclear program, this is the first time that the international system has been able to actually impose a cost on North Korea for its nuclear behavior,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

“It’s able to impose that cost because China has been brought into the process in a way that China never was before,” she said after meetings with President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders.

Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan briefed Miss Rice on his meeting with Mr. Kim a day earlier in Pyongyang. As state councilor, Mr. Tang outranks China’s foreign minister in the government hierarchy.

“Fortunately, my visit this time has not been in vain,” Mr. Tang said.

Meanwhile, acting on government orders, four state-owned Chinese banks halted financial transfers to North Korea, bank employees told the Associated Press in Beijing and the northeastern city of Shenyang.

Miss Rice flew out of the Chinese capital today for Moscow, where she will hold further talks on implementing U.N. sanctions. Miss Rice is scheduled to discuss North Korea with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The secretary of state has also visited Japan and South Korea on her tour of North Korea’s neighbors.

“We have no plans for additional nuclear tests,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted Mr. Kim as telling the Chinese envoy. The newspaper cited an unidentified diplomatic source in Beijing.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo daily reported that the North Korean leader also told the Chinese visitors “he is sorry about the nuclear test” already conducted. The newspaper cited a diplomatic source in China.

The Japanese news agency Kyodo quoted Foreign Minister Taro Aso as saying he had information, although not confirmed, that the North Korean leader had said he would not conduct another test.

U.S. and Chinese officials stopped short of confirming the reports, saying only that Mr. Kim pledged not to escalate the situation further.

Mr. Tang “went out of his way to emphasize that he told the North” that China “intends to implement” U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, Miss Rice told reporters in a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.

The U.N. measure imposed sanctions on missile- and nuclear-related imports and exports and called for inspections of cargo heading in and out of North Korea.

“The Chinese made the point to us that they are scrupulous about [their] land border” with North Korea, Miss Rice said. “You will see cooperation on cargo, particularly if there is suspicious cargo.”

China had said publicly that it would not participate in inspections called for in the U.N. resolution. Nevertheless, Chinese officials this week began inspecting North Korean trucks crossing the two nations’ 880-mile border.

Miss Rice said that her visit to China, and earlier to Japan and South Korea, was intended to emphasize the importance of enforcing the resolution.

“Their implementation is going to differ according to their own authorities, with the specific problems they face,” she said.

During his joint appearance with Miss Rice, Mr. Li, the Chinese foreign minister, urged North Korea to end its yearlong boycott of six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear future.

“We hope all relevant parties will maintain coolheadedness, adopt a prudent and a responsible approach and adhere to peaceful dialogue,” Mr. Li said.

As North Korea’s longtime ally and protector, China had used its veto-wielding clout in the U.N. Security Council to soften the sanctions package.

The measure explicitly ruled out the threat of military force if North Korean defiance continued.

Nevertheless, China’s vote for the final resolution and measures it has since implemented represented a major shift in its posture toward the North.

Russia, China, Japan, the two Koreas and the United States are parties in the six-nation talks that have been boycotted by North Korea since late last year.

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