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Seoul Ratchets Up Pressure on North (The Wall Street Journal )

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Seoul Ratchets Up Pressure on


Tensions Surrounding Pyongyang's Alleged

Torpedoing of South Korean Vessel Dominate

U.S.–China Meeting in Beijing

[USCHINA] AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told China's leaders in Beijing on Sunday that the U.S. would back Seoul in its efforts at the United Nations to punish North Korea for an alleged attack on a South Korean ship


BEIJING—South Korea pledged to block passage of North Korean ships through its territorial waters as part of an intensifying international response to Pyongyang's alleged sinking of a South Korean warship.


The announcement by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Monday in a nationally televised address came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Chinese leaders on Sunday Washington would support Seoul's actions in a crisis that U.S. diplomats describe as one of the gravest threats to Northeast Asian security "in decades."


South Korea's move would still leave North Korean ships with access to international waters, though they might have to travel farther to get there. Mr. Lee said Seoul would also halt trade and financial exchanges with North Korea, though it would continue to provide food and other assistance for infants and children.


U.S.-China Talks

Sal Leob/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, stood between Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Monday.


Mrs. Clinton briefed Chinese leaders late Sunday in Beijing, ahead of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue between U.S. and Chinese officials. But the crisis over North Korea's alleged torpedoing of the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in March is beginning to dominate the proceedings, said senior U.S. officials.


Mrs. Clinton didn't immediately address Mr. Lee's announcement. But in remarks Monday to open the dialogue in Beijing, she called on China to coordinate with the U.S. on the response to Cheonan issue. "We must work together again to address this challenge," she told officials and journalists at the Great Hall of the People. "We call on North Korea to stop its provocative actions."


More than 200 U.S. officials are attending the two-day conference starting Monday, including Mrs. Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.


The agenda reflects the full sweep of ties between the world's two most important powers, from nuclear proliferation to global financial regulation and climate change, as well as bilateral issues such as market access.


On Sunday, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo hosted Mrs. Clinton and the administration's top Asia hands at a banquet in Beijing. U.S. officials in attendance said a significant portion of the event focused on a recently completed international probe that implicated North Korea in the Cheonan's sinking and on the response that the U.S. and its allies were preparing.



North Korea has denied any involvement in the incident, and has warned before Mrs. Clinton's remarks that it would respond to any retaliation or sanctions with "an all-out war." North Korea often uses harsh rhetoric and has threatened war in the past.


Mrs. Clinton said Washington would back South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's decision to report North Korea to the U.N. Security Council this week and seek potential new economic sanctions against Pyongyang. She told the Chinese that the U.S. expected China to follow suit in reprimanding Kim Jong Il's government for the alleged violation of the armistice signed between North and South Korea more than 50 years ago.

"We want them to take some steps in the international arena to underscore the seriousness of the matter," said a senior U.S. official at the dinner.


In his announcement, South Korea's president said that Seoul will refer the Cheonan matter to the Security Council, though he didn't announce a specific timeline. Mr. Lee urged North Korea to apologize for the incident and punish those responsible.


Mr. Lee also said he is reviewing the operation of an industrial complex just inside the North that, for years, has been the South's largest economic project in the North. About 100 South Korean companies employ 40,000 North Koreans at the facility. Mr. Lee was vague about what may happen to it, saying he will take its "unique characteristics into consideration."


China is North Korea's closest military ally and economic partner. U.S. officials said Beijing still appeared reluctant to take sides in the conflict that killed 46 South Korean sailors. Beijing continues to be wary of South Korea's probe, which included investigators from the U.S., U.K., Australia and Sweden. China's government recently said it would complete its own assessment of the sinking.


Mrs. Clinton and her aides shared some of the forensics from the probe with Mr. Dai and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, said the U.S. officials. The Chinese, in turn, briefed the Americans on Kim Jong Il's visit to Beijing earlier this month and the state of his health.


Bloomberg News

Treasury Secretary Geithner plays basketball with Beijing students.

U.S. officials believe Mr. Kim suffered a stroke in late 2008 and has begun transferring power to his third son, Kim Jong Eun. U.S. officials worry Pyongyang's alleged actions against the South could be tied to North Korea's internal politics. But the senior U.S. official who attended the Beijing dinner said: "I don't think we have enough confidence in what North Korea wants to make that judgment."


U.S. officials have said they need Beijing to constrain North Korea because of concerns the conflict could escalate. The alleged North Korean attack is seen as the worst against Seoul since the bombing of a Korean Airlines jetliner in the late 1980s.


"We haven't faced something like this in decades," said the U.S. official.


Mrs. Clinton also discussed with Mr. Dai the administration's hopes to impose within weeks a new round of economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear work.


China last week signed on to the broad outlines of a new sanctions package against Tehran. But Chinese leaders have offered conflicting comments as to how quickly Beijing believes the penalties should be passed through the Security Council.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad communicated through Turkey and Brazil last week that Tehran would be willing to ship out some of its nuclear fuel to a third country. Chinese officials on Sunday didn't tell Washington whether this new offer changed Beijing's commitment to new sanctions.


"One of the purposes of this trip is to make clear what our expectations are" concerning Iran, said the senior U.S. official.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to meet with South Korea's Mr. Lee Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama later in the week in South Korea, where another discussion about North Korea is expected to take place. Mrs. Clinton is visiting Seoul on Wednesday.


During the U.S.–China dialogue, Washington is expected to press China to remove barriers to U.S. clean-energy companies and abandon a plan to give preference in government-procurement contracts to companies with "indigenous innovation."


China is making more demands, as it becomes emboldened by its rising economic clout, and by the West's weakened position in the wake of the global financial crisis and Europe's debt troubles.


"We've seen a new tough, truculent attitude" from Chinese officials, says David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University, who currently lives in Beijing on sabbatical.


The biggest holder of U.S. sovereign debt, Beijing wants assurances that U.S. policy will protect the value of its holdings. It wants the U.S. to ease limits on high-tech exports to China, and halt a recent surge in antidumping cases and other trade actions against China.


"Because U.S. unemployment is high, protectionism is on the rise, particularly in the U.S. Congress," says Zhou Shijian, senior fellow at Tsinghua University's Center for U.S.-China Relations.


Increasingly, Washington seems to be listening to China. It has muted its criticism on China's policy of keeping its exchange rate effectively pegged to the dollar, and U.S. officials say they don't intend to make China's currency policy a central issue in this week's talks. U.S. officials say China is less likely to shift its policy if such a move appears to its population as a capitulation to foreign pr ssure.


Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has said the U.S. is preparing to revise its limits on high-tech exports, an issue China has been pushing for years. And Mrs. Clinton, in remarks in Shanghai Sunday, spoke of the importance of a "level playing field" for domestic and international companies, but stopped short of criticizing China specifically.


—Andrew Browne, Evan Ramstad and Andrew Batson contributed to this article.
[ 2010-05-24, 17:03 ] 조회수 : 2914
출처 : The Wall Street Journal