03/21/2005, 00.00
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Condoleezza Rice tells Beijing to get more involved in North Korea issue

In return China demands US put the breaks on Taiwan Independence. Secretary Rice attends Palm Sunday service in a small Protestant Church in Beijing.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In her meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her country's support for negotiations to solve the Taiwan and North Korea issues and reiterated US commitment to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ms Rice, who is on the last leg of an Asian tour, asked China to get North Korea to resume the six-party talks that Pyongyang left last February.

For its part, the Chinese told the Americans not to send "any wrong signal to the Taiwan splittist forces" after Washington criticised the new anti-secession law adopted by China's National people's Congress, a law that gives mainland China the right to use force should Taiwan declare its independence.

President Hu assured his American guest that China had every intention to press North Korea into resuming the six-party talks over the latter's nuclear weapons programme.

In addition to China, the US and North Korea, the six-party talks include Russia, Japan and South Korea.

China plays a key mediating role and provides North Korea with essential economic aid (grain, oil and coal). In exchange, it has asked the US to be more flexible on the nuclear issue.

Above all, Mr Hu said he hoped the US would "understand and support all the efforts made by the Chinese government and people to safeguard Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, and realise a peaceful unification".

China's President explained that the law limiting Taiwan's ambitions for independence was designed to promote "peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits".

Ms Rice reiterated US opposition to the law, saying that it is a source of tensions between the mainland and the island, but also re-affirmed her country's commitment to a 'One China' policy.

In Seoul, Secretary Rice said the US wanted to guarantee the stability of the Asia-Pacific region and criticised the European Union for its plans to lift its embargo on the sale of sophisticated weapons to mainland China.

Yesterday, Secretary Rice attended an evening Palm Sunday service at Gangwashi Christian Church. She made no public statement during the service but did write in the visitor's book: "May God bless you. Thank you for allowing me to share Palm Sunday with you. Yours in Christ. Condoleezza Rice."

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