U.S. Asks China to Voice Concern to N.Koreaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday asked her Chinese counterpart to convey U.S. concern to Beijing's ally North Korea after its defiant but unsuccessful rocket launch.
Clinton, who was heading Friday to a summit in Colombia, spoke by telephone with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as she sought a "unified way to speak out and condemn this action," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
"We're asking them to use their relationship with North Korea to convey our concern about their recent actions," Toner told reporters.
China is believed to have the most influence over North Korea and the United States has repeatedly urged the rising Asian power to rein in its isolated and heavily militarized neighbor.
China had taken the rare step of criticizing the launch plan, which came just weeks after the United States and North Korea sealed an agreement negotiated in Beijing for a freeze on Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
After Pyongyang went ahead, China urged "calm and restraint" from all sides. North Korea said it failed to put a satellite into orbit, in a launch that the United States and South Korea considered a disguised missile test.
President Barack Obama entered office in 2009 with a policy to reach out to U.S. adversaries. But he had hesitated at diplomacy with North Korea, which carried out missile and nuclear tests within months of his administration.
The Obama administration eventually returned to talks and on February 29 announced an agreement to deliver food aid to North Korea, which pledged a freeze on its missile and nuclear programs.
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes defended Obama's policy from domestic critics, noting that previous Republican president George W. Bush had controversially removed North Korea from a terrorism blacklist as he sought a diplomatic breakthrough late in his second term.
"What this administration has done is broken the cycle of rewarding provocative actions by the North Koreans that we've seen in the past," Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One.
Rhodes said that the United States had not provided North Korea any assistance under the February 29 deal. The administration suspended plans for the food aid after North Korea announced its launch preparations.
Rhodes said that the Obama administration also put in place "the most unprecedented sanctions in place against the North Koreans that we've seen to date," referring to U.N. and U.S. actions following the regime's 2009 tests.
Several Republicans said that North Korea's missile launch showed a failure of Obama's foreign policy, widely seen as one of the president's strengths as he seeks reelection in November.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that North Korea's weapons program "poses a clear and growing threat to the United States, one for which President Obama has no effective response."
"Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food aid deal that proved to be as naive as it was short-lived," Romney said in a statement Thursday.