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US, China Discuss Stronger North Korean and Iran Sanctions

23 January 2007

U.S. and Chinese officials have discussed speeding up U.N. sanctions against North Korea, and expanding those against Iran. The visiting U.S. official says China's help has been instrumental in getting some U.S. policy through the U.N. Security Council, but she expressed disappointment at Beijing's veto of a resolution condemning Burma's human rights record. Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Beijing.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state in charge of international organization affairs, Kristin Silverberg, says the United States and China support sanctions against North Korea. But she said the process for implementing sanctions was too slow.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, she said any decision for action by the Security Council's sanctions committee requires unanimity by the 15 members. That slows down implementation of resolutions such as Number 1718, which in October imposed sanctions on North Korea over the North's first nuclear test.

"We think that it is important to pursue our discussions with [on] North Korea on a two-pronged approach," she said. "First, rapid and robust implementation of 1718, and also resumption as soon as possible of the six-party talks."

Silverberg's two days of meetings with Chinese officials here also included discussion of the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran has defied international pressure to end a program of enriching uranium, which many western nations believe is aimed at building nuclear weapons. In December, the Security Council, with China's support, voted to impose sanctions on Tehran.

Silverberg told the Chinese the U.S. wants to see those sanctions expanded into areas outside that resolution. She declined to go into detail, but described the discussions as "very constructive."

Silverberg said the U.S. and China are working closely to persuade Sudan to allow a U.N.-backed peacekeeping force into Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

She said, "Our reaction now is that we are really on the same page with China on how we can bring an end to the violence and suffering in Sudan, and we are both working, I think, to use our individual leverage to make that happen."

Despite their cooperation, Washington and Beijing continue to have their differences in foreign policy.

Silverberg said the U.S. was disappointed with the failure of a recent U.N. resolution on Burma's political repression and human rights situation. The resolution was vetoed by China and Russia.

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