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US Secretary of State Rice urges Beijing to urge North Korean nuclear disarmament forward

US Secretary of State Rice urges Beijing to urge North Korean nuclear disarmament forward

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday she expects China to help prod North Korea into fully declaring its nuclear programs, hoping to breath new life into a stalled disarmament process.
Following a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Rice said the U.S. still awaits a "complete and full declaration" from North Korea as promised last year.
"I am expecting from China what I am expecting from others. That we will use all influence possible with the North Koreans to convince them that it is time to move forward," Rice said.
Yang said China had been in "close talks" with North Korea, its longtime communist ally whose shattered economy it is helping prop up. "We certainly hope that second-phase actions can be implemented in a balanced, integrated way," Yang said.
Rice arrived in Beijing earlier Tuesday on the second stop of a regional tour aimed at jump-starting a year-old agreement under which North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear programs in return for aid and diplomatic benefits.
North Korea says it has already provided a list of its programs, but Washington says it was not a complete accounting.
China has hosted six-nation talks on North Korea's denuclearization process and has been encouraged by Washington to pressure its neighbor to comply with an October promise to declare all its nuclear programs as part of the agreement's second-phase.
On the first stop of her Asian sweep, Rice attended the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and lauded his intent to hold North Korea to its promise to abandon nuclear weapons.
China's Foreign Ministry said Rice would also meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, a senior adviser on foreign affairs.
While North Korea maintains a large diplomatic mission in Beijing, Rice has ruled out talks with North Korean officials while in China, saying such a meeting was neither warranted nor could be of any use in the current circumstances.
North Korea shut down its main nuclear reactor last year as required by a breakthrough agreement reached at the Beijing talks.
However, American researchers who visited the complex earlier this month reported that officials there said they had slowed the removal of fuel rods because the United States and other nations have fallen behind in supplying aid promised under the disarmament deal.
U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill met with North Korean officials during a visit to Beijing last week, saying afterward that multilateral talks cannot resume until the North has tendered a "complete and correct declaration" of its nuclear programs. Such a document would then be discussed by the six nations in Beijing, he said.
Rice's visit comes the same day as a landmark performance by the New York Philharmonic in North Korea.
Rice, a pianist, has pointedly ignored the unprecedented event that some have dubbed "violin diplomacy," saying: "I don't think we should get carried away with what listening to Dvorak is going to do in North Korea."
Rice later is to visit Japan, also among the six countries taking part in the North Korea talks. Russia and South Korea round out the sextet.
In other comments, Rice again criticized plans by Taiwan to hold a referendum on United Nations entry, a poll that has prompted heated condemnations from Beijing, which claims the self-governing island as its own territory.
"Taiwan is a democratic entity that will have to make its own decision but we believe this referendum is not going to help anyone. In fact, it should not be held," Rice said.
Washington has also been harshly critical of China's curbs on civil and religious rights and Rice said the sides committed themselves to renewed dialogue on such issues.
A senior State Department official said Rice raised specific cases of concern with Yang, but gave no details.
"We do this with respect but these are issues that are very near and dear to American values," Rice said.
China and the United States held on-again, off-again dialogues on human rights in the 1990s and into the first years of the Bush administration.
But the meetings were sidelined after 2002 when the Bush administration said China had failed to keep promises to allow in U.N. investigators. China in turn suspended the dialogue in 2004 when the Bush administration decided to sponsor a resolution censuring China before the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The motion failed.