Chinese President Meets N. Korean Delegation, Vows to Advance Ties

Posted April 23rd, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed on Monday to bolster ties with North Korea, saying the two countries should work toward strengthening peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Hu's comments, quoted by the official Xinhua news agency, were directed at a visiting North Korean delegation. They come 10 days after a North Korean rocket launch drew official protests from the United States, the European Union and a host of East Asian governments. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the launch, which officials said violated international rules against missile testing by the North.

North Korea has said the failed rocket launch was aimed at placing a satellite into orbit. But critics say the satellite explanation served as a cover for North Korean ballistic missile testing prohibited under U.N. sanctions.

Monday's Xinhua report made no specific mention of the April 13 launch, and did not reference South Korean reports that Pyongyang may be preparing for another nuclear test.

Beijing voiced misgivings last week about the rocket launch, which came as China works to restart multinational talks aimed at ending the North's controversial nuclear weapons program.

Chinese state-controlled media said Beijing took “a clear attitude in condemning” its longtime Korean ally last week when it backed a U.N. Security Council statement criticizing the launch.

China's Global Times newspaper warned last week that Pyongyang should not be led into thinking it can ignore Beijing's wishes with impunity. It also warned that the North “will pay the price if it tries to abduct China's North Korea policy.”

The newspaper also quoted a Korean scholar at Tongji university in Shanghai as saying the failed rocket launch has already cost the Pyongyang government more than $800 million. Cui Zhiying equated the expense to 2.5 million tons of corn, and says he seriously doubts the famine-ravaged North has enough money to carry out another nuclear test.