Kerry: North Korea ‘Not Even Close’ To Meeting Conditions For Talks

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kerryU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul to discuss security on the Korean peninsula and bilateral issues.

At a joint news conference after the meetings on Monday, Kerry said North Korea has “not even come close” to taking the steps needed to rein in its nuclear weapons program for Washington to initiate talks, adding that it was necessary to boost pressure on Pyongyang.

North Korea is already under heavy U.N. sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests.

Kerry also said it is likely the North will be referred to the International Criminal Court if its current violations of human rights continue.

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On Sunday in Beijing, Kerry met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A senior State Department official said they discussed a shared commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and agreed on the importance of maintaining pressure on Pyongyang.

The official said they also talked about climate change, the nuclear negotiations with Iran, providing development aid around the world, and Afghanistan.

Kerry also expressed concern about China’s ongoing land reclamation in the South China Sea and highlighted the need to lower tensions, resolve disputes peacefully, respect international law, and to exercise restraint.

During a Saturday Beijing news conference with Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing maintains “unshakable” determination to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

International tensions are rising over disputed claims in the mineral and energy rich South China Sea. China has laid claim to wide swaths of the region, particularly near the Spratly Islands, despite internationally recognized claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

China has been building reefs and outcroppings at seven maritime sites, in a push to strengthen its claims.

The Philippines has called for “urgent action,” while the Association of Southeast Asian Nations recently warned that Chinese encroachment threatens regional peace.

Wang said China is prepared to talk, but he also said Beijing would not back down on South China Sea construction, which he said “is something that falls fully within the scope of China’s sovereignty.”

U.S. officials said this past week the Defense Department is considering sending military ships and planes to the South China Sea to enforce freedom of navigation.  Beijing says any such move would be considered provocative.

Wang also said Washington and Beijing must work together to speed up progress on a bilateral investment treaty.  He also urged Washington to loosen restrictions on high-tech exports.

Kerry tweeted that talks on areas of U.S.- China cooperation were “productive.”

In an interview with Phoenix TV Sunday, Kerry repeated U.S. denials of being opposed to the new China led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which recently launched without Washington joining the organization.

“We think it’s terrific that China wants to step up and help lead with this initiative …  But we want the AIIB and other efforts to be transparent and accountable and to work by the standards of global finance,” he said.

Xi is to visit to the United States in September and President Park plans a U.S. visit next month


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