The top U.S. diplomat in Seoul called on China on Wednesday to exercise more of its influence over North Korea to stop the prickly regime from provocations and to give up its nuclear programs.
The appeal from Amb. Kathleen Stephens came as Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg was in Beijing as head of a high-level U.S. delegation on a mission to urge Beijing to rein in Pyongyang amid tensions over the North’s deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island.
“It is critically important that China continues to play a strong role making clear to North Korea that there are consequences for its actions,” Stephens said at a lunch meeting organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We hope that China will work with us to send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea that they have to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose and end their provocative actions,” she said.
China is considered to have the strongest influence over Pyongyang as the impoverished nation’s biggest provider of food and energy aid as well as diplomatic support. But it has been unwilling to use the leverage as it is concerned that instability in the North could hurt its economic and political interests, experts say.