Envoy: China, US United Over NKorea

Envoy: China, US United Over NKorea

BEIJING (AP) -- Pointing to stronger China-U.S. cooperation on North Korea, a U.S. envoy said Thursday the two nations are united in their opposition to the North's nuclear tests and worked together to develop the tough sanctions imposed in March.

Sung Kim, the U.S. government's top envoy for North Korea, told reporters in Beijing that China took as much part in drafting the U.N. Security Council's March resolution as Washington or the Security Council did.

Both countries "remain united in our firm opposition to North Korea's provocative and irresponsible behavior," Kim told reporters after meeting his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, over strategy toward North Korea. Kim declined to give details of their discussions.

The most recent sanctions include mandatory inspections of cargo leaving and entering North Korea and a ban on the export of coal and iron being used to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. They were imposed in response to North Korea's conducting its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier this year in violation of Security Council resolutions.

U.S. officials in the past have implied that Beijing was coddling its neighbor and Chinese officials at first appeared reluctant to agree to punishing new sanctions. That reluctance appeared to melt in February in the face of the North's vows to conduct more tests despite sanctions and the condemnation of the international community.

Kim said the U.S. and other nations that had previously joined in six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear programs were still open to "credible and meaningful diplomacy" with Pyongyang.

Analysts say a fifth nuclear test could happen before North Korea holds a Workers' Party congress in early May, providing Kim Jong Un with an opportunity to burnish his image as a powerful leader and further cement his grip on power.

Kim, the U.S. envoy, said he hoped the congress, the first in 36 years, would help propel North Korea in a "much more constructive direction ... in terms of undertaking serious economic reform, in terms of caring better for their own citizens."