U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday underscored the Obama administration's close collaboration with Beijing on constraining North Korea a day after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
U.S.-China security ties have faced new challenges in recent days following Beijing's declaration of an expansive air defense zone over disputed East China Sea territory that Washington and its principal Asian allies do not recognize. Still, it is in the two nuclear powers bilateral efforts to limit "the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including North Korea's destabilizing nuclear and missile programs ... where we have real cooperation," said Biden in remarks to Chinese business representatives in Beijing.
China this fall rolled out a lengthy list of export-control rules intended to prevent North Korea from acquiring "dual-use" items for use in its nuclear and missile programs. Beijing has also given its support to U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions passed in the last year following Pyongyang's most recent long-range missile and nuclear tests. China is North Korea's biggest trading partner, so securing Beijing's support for multilateral efforts to constrain Pyongyang's WMD efforts has long been a goal of the United States.
During Biden's meeting with Xi, the two men "spent a substantial amount of time on North Korea," according to an unidentified U.S. official, who briefed the press on the vice president's trip this week through East Asia.
The two sides also considered what lessons could be leaned from the recent success in securing a temporary agreement from Tehran to freeze and roll back some of its nuclear activities in return for easing selected sanctions. That example suggests that "a combination of pressure plus dialogue plus international community unity ... is what brought Iran to the table to deal constructively, and the same recipe can apply for North Korea," the unnamed administration official said.
Biden and Xi "reviewed the internal situation in North Korea in light of some of the news reports in recent days," the official said in an apparent reference to reports that the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been purged from his No. 2 position of authority in the country.