07/13/2006, 00.00
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China "got nothing" from Pyongyang on missile crisis

This was the conclusion Christopher Hill came to after two days in Beijing for consultations on the UN response to North Korea's provocations. The regime of Kim Jong-il has demanded that Seoul supply food aid in return for military protection on offer for the whole peninsula.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Chinese have not registered "any progress" with North Korea and the Beijing delegation in Pyongyang for three days "has obtained nothing so far". This was the downbeat assessment of Christopher Hill, US Assistant Secretary of State for Asian affairs, regarding attempts by the Chinese authorities to mediate in the UN response to North Korea's missile launches. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has demanded that South Korea deliver food aid in return for military protection on offer for the whole peninsula.

Hill, currently on a trip to Asian capitals involved in the North Korean missile saga, reached Beijing after visiting Seoul and Tokyo. In the two days he was in Beiing, he met the Foreign Affairs Minister, Li Zhaoxing.

Leaving the country, he said he foresaw a "very strong message" of the international community to North Korea. "I have said all I could about the mission of the Chinese in Pyongyang. There was no progress." Hill said he was "worried" about the attitude of North Korea, adding that the "Chinese are as baffled as we are." He said: "China has done so much for that country, and North Korea has taken all that generosity and given nothing back... The Chinese seem a bit frustrated to me".

Hill's mission followed a Security Council delay in deciding which resolution – either one by Japan and the US providing for sanctions or a Sino-Russian one that does not – it should adopt to tackle North Korea. The delay was decided on Monday 9 July to allow for Chinese mediation.

In the meantime, the Stalinist regime led by Kim Jong-il has called on Seoul to "provide humanitarian aid promised to the people as soon as possible", in return for assured "protection" for the entire peninsula. North Korea's Senior Cabinet adviser, Kwon Ho-ung, said yesterday that the "Songun ideology [which preaches a military-first approach, putting military development above everything else] impoverished us but thus, we can help the South and the South Korean people to protect their security".

Further, Kwon called for the suspension of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States and urged "all patriots of the Korean peninsula" to visit "sacred places in the North" to celebrate the liberation from the Japanese colonialist regime on 15 August. Included in these "shrines", there are the Kumsusan Memorial Palace where still now former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung lies embalmed – although he died 12 years ago – and the Patriotic Martyrs' Cemetery.

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