Obama warns Chinese president over North Korea

Obama tells Jintao that if China doesn't increase pressure on N Korea the US will redeploy forces in Asia, the 'New York Times' reports.

January 21, 2011 07:26
2 minute read.
President Barack Obama meets with Chinese Presiden

Obama Jintao 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

US President Barak Obama warned Chinese President Hu Jintao that if China did not increase its pressure on North Korea the United States would be forced to redeploy its forces in Asia, the New York Times reported a senior administration official as saying on Friday.

According to the report Obama first issued the warning to the Chinese president over a phone call last month and repeated his stance over a private dinner at the White House on Tuesday. 

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The official said the warning persuaded China to take a harder line in its policies towards North Korea, leading to the resumption of dialogue between the North and South, according to the report.

“It was not meant to suggest pre-emption, but we were projecting that a North Korea that becomes a national security threat is going to get a response,” said the official to the New York Times, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “That was attention-getting for the Chinese.”

On Wednesday following the private dinner, President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, stressed the importance of an early resumption of six-nation negotiations on North Korea's nuclear programs.

On Thursday, South Korea officially accepted a North Korean proposal to hold high-level defense talks following months of soaring tensions, a breakthrough announced after the urging of the United States and China.

Any talks could prove significant if Seoul and Pyongyang can put aside military and political animosity and lay the groundwork for a resumption of long-stalled international negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear programs. Lower-level defense talks last year foundered over the issue of the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in disputed waters.

The agenda this time should include North Korean assurances that it will take "responsible measures" over the ship sinking and the shelling of a South Korean island and not provoke further conflict, said Chun Hae-sung, a spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, which is in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

The Obama-Hu talks were closely watched in South Korea, which has a decades-long security alliance with Washington, while China is North Korea's only major ally. Next week, the United States is sending a senior diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, to Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing for talks on the Korean standoff.

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