Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will urge China to do more to resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula and to back U.S. plans for a tough new U.N. resolution on Iraq, U.S. officials said today.
Powell, who arrived in Beijing this evening on a three-nation swing through Asia, is expected to ask China to apply more pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program -- something China has been reluctant to do. Powell also wants assurances that China will not veto the upcoming resolution on Iraq, even though China has said it would prefer to give U.N. weapons inspectors more time to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction and to try to end Baghdad's suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
Powell arrived in Beijing from Tokyo, where he consulted with Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, on Iraq and North Korea. Powell travels to South Korea on Monday and will attend the inauguration of President-elect Roh Moo Hyun on Tuesday.
In Beijing, Powell will meet with China's Communist leadership, including President Jiang Zemin, newly appointed party boss Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan.
China's relations with the United States have improved markedly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. China has generally backed the U.S. war against terrorism, and the United States has offered some support to China for its battle against separatists in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Chinese analysts predicted that China would not pose any serious challenge to a new U.S.-backed resolution on Iraq in the U.N. Security Council. China's interests in the Middle East involve ensuring the smooth delivery of oil but little else. China has generally supported French and German calls for giving U.N. weapons inspectors more time, but analysts do not expect it to sacrifice ties with the United States over the issue.
But North Korea is a more complicated issue. China has said it opposes North Korea's recent move to leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its plans to resume its nuclear weapons program.
China's efforts, however, have fallen short of U.S. expectations. China is the top supplier of food and fuel to North Korea and is believed to have deep influence over the secretive government of Kim Jong Il. After the crisis erupted, Russia, South Korea and Australia sent envoys to North Korea, but China did not.
Chinese officials have argued that they have conducted quiet diplomacy with North Korea. In the first announcement of a significant meeting between the two sides, Kim Yong Nam, a top North Korean official, met Friday with Chinese officials, the official New China News Agency reported. The agency said the two sides promised to enhance friendship between their countries, but no other details were reported.
Today, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, en route to Beijing, told reporters that Powell "looks forward to considering with the Chinese how to build on their existing efforts with North Korea."