China's North Korea Envoy to Visit Washington

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BEIJING -- China's special envoy on North Korea, Wu Dawei, will visit Washington early next week to conduct talks with American officials, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The visit comes after Secretary of State John Kerry said in Beijing last week that China had a vital role to play in helping rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

Separately, a senior editor of an influential Chinese newspaper, Study Times, who was suspended from his post after criticizing China's ties to North Korea, said in an interview on Friday that China and the United States needed to work together to solve the North Korean situation.

The editor, Deng Yuwen, who is now a freelance writer, said he doubted that North Korea would agree to join any talks on its denuclearization, even if they got under way.

Referring to the round of negotiations known as the six-party talks, which were suspended in 2008 after North Korea withdrew from them, Mr. Deng said: "I personally don't think North Korea will participate in the six-party talks."

The provocative threats from North Korea over the last few months had "forced the U.S. and China together," Mr. Deng said. He added: "They must work on it together. China cannot handle it by itself, and neither can the U.S."

The visit to Washington by Mr. Wu, one of China's senior diplomats, will be his first to the United States since 2010. He will meet with Glyn T. Davies, the State Department's special envoy on North Korea, and other American officials.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said at the regular news briefing on Friday that Mr. Wu would be in Washington at the invitation of Mr. Davies, and would participate in "an in-depth exchange of views" on the "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Mr. Wu served as chairman of the six-party talks that involved China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

During his visit to Beijing last week, Mr. Kerry said the United States would be interested in talks on North Korea but he set a precondition: that North Korea pledge to give up its nuclear weapons. That condition has been rejected by the regime led by Kim Jong-un.

North Korea has also insisted since Mr. Kerry's visit to Beijing that if the United States wanted dialogue it must end economic sanctions against North Korea and joint military exercises with South Korea.

Mr. Kerry told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday that the United States was not willing to reward North Korea for merely returning to the negotiating table.

But at the same time, Mr. Kerry expressed interest in pursuing whether it might be possible to start negotiations.

"That's the first word of negotiation or thought of that we've heard from them since all of this has begun," Mr. Kerry told the panel. "So I'm prepared to look at that as, you know, at least a beginning gambit -- not acceptable, obviously, and we have to go further."

The Obama administration expressed gratitude to China for its support of stiffer economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations after North Korea detonated its third nuclear bomb in February. It was the first such detonation under the leadership of Mr. Kim, who came to power in December 2011.

But the administration has been frustrated by the seeming unwillingness or inability of China, North Korea's main ally and economic patron, to clamp down on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which has expanded since the end of the six-party talks.

For its part, China seems reluctant to change its fundamental policy of preventing the collapse of North Korea, an outcome that could result in the unification of the Korean Peninsula and potentially put a close American military ally on China's doorstep.

In efforts to encourage China to take bolder action against North Korea, Mr. Kerry spoke warmly of his talks in Beijing, his first as secretary of state.

He told the Congressional panel that China was worried about the provocative actions of North Korea. "The last thing they would want, I'm convinced, is a war on their doorstep of a completely destabilized Korean Peninsula," he said.

In another sign of diplomatic efforts to deal with North Korea, the South Korean news agency, Yonhap reported Friday that the South Korean foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, would meet with the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, in Beijing next week to discuss North Korea.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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