07/11/2006, 00.00
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China submits bid to UN to resolve crisis minus sanctions against Pyongyang

Japan's proposal has been blocked; it paved the way for sanctions, opposed by Beijing, Seoul and Moscow. The South Korean government has accused Japan of wanting to intensify the crisis through "rhetoric based on provocation". Chinese diplomats are in the North Korean capital.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Chinese government has drawn up a draft statement on North Korea for the United Nations Security Council to replace the Japanese proposal. The latter indicated that Pyongyang's violation of international peace and security paved the way for economic sanctions.

China's proposal calls on North Korea to "stop development, testing, deployment and proliferation of ballistic missiles and to return to respecting the moratorium on missile launches". But, contrary to Japan's draft, it does not refer to any sanctions against the regime, led by Kim Jong-il, for launching seven missiles last week which exploded, or fell, over the Sea of Japan.

Japan's proposal should have been put to a vote last night, but criticisms levelled by China, Russia and South Korea convinced negotiators to delay the matter. The South Korean government said it "has no intention of supporting a resolution proposed by the UN including Japan, the US and France" and Vice Foreign Minister, Lee Kyu-hyung, called the Japanese Ambassador to Korea, Shotaro Oshima, to inform him of the decision. "In any case, we can't be in the same boat with Japan," Foreign Ministry spokesman Choo Kyu-ho said. Seoul also accused Tokyo of "wanting to intensify the crisis in the northern part of the peninsula", using the threat of pre-emptive strikes with "rhetoric based on provocation".

Presidential office spokesman Jung Tae-ho, said today: "South Korea will react forcefully to the arrogance of Japanese political leaders". The true interests of Japan, he continued, lay in "becoming once again a power in the military sphere".

A united approach to handling the missile crisis that erupted last week thanks to Pyongyang's missile testing appears to be out of reach. Christopher Hill, the US chief nuclear negotiator, is on "an emergency trip" in Seoul to emphasize the need to "speak to the regime of Kim Jong-il in one voice", but his appeal has fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, debate has stalled at the UN Security Council The vote on the joint resolution – and on sanctions invoked by Washington – should have been held last night, but was postponed to allow Chinese diplomats time to make new efforts to persuade Pyongyang to drop its plans to conduct more test launches. 

A very high level delegation, led by the Chinese vice premier, Hui Liangyu, has gone to the North Korean capital, where it should stay for at least six days. The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said: "The UN vote has been blocked but this phase is not over. Let's give Chinese diplomacy some time but we will continue to monitor it day by day."

Seoul fears that a broad interpretation of UN resolutions including sanctions may block all forms of economic cooperation with the other part of the peninsula. A government representative said: "If it includes sanctions, the resolution would kill off the Kaesong industrial complex, where we collaborate with the North, and it could prevent us from sending humanitarian aid to the population. In other words, the decision of Tokyo and Washington to continue to punish the North harshly would be a form of harsh pressure on our government too." The Seoul government has often come under fire for being too indulgent towards the regime led by Kim.

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