Korea Tensions Overshadow Clinton's China Trip
DAVID GREENE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing.
ANTHONY KUHN: Secretary of State Clinton told reporters in Beijing that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made the right decision to take the matter to the U.N. Security Council and to cut all trade and tourism ties between the two Koreas. She called the security situation precarious and reaffirmed U.S. support for South Korea's defense.
S: President Obama has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Korean counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression. As part of our ongoing dialogue, we will explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the peninsula.
KUHN: Secretary Clinton said the U.S. is working with North Korea's neighbors, including China, to halt Pyongyang's aggression.
S: The Chinese recognize the gravity of the situation we face. The Chinese understand the reaction by the South Koreans, and they also understand our unique responsibility for the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
KUHN: China has, so far, tried to balance its ties between North and South Korea and get both sides to cool down. State Counselor Dai Bingguo, one of China's top foreign policy officials, addressed the opening of the U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue here today. He didn't specifically mention North Korea, but he made it clear China wanted provocations from no one.
MONTAGNE: (Foreign language spoken)
KUHN: Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke to the hundreds of U.S. and Chinese officials at the dialogue. He reiterated that China would continue to reform its currency policies and increase domestic demand. But he also reminded the U.S. that China does not welcome interference on issues such as Tibet and Taiwan, which China wants to prevent from becoming independent.
P: (Through translator) There's nothing more important to the Chinese people than protecting sovereignty and territorial integrity. I'm sure that the American people, having been through a Civil War, will not have a hard time understanding how important and precious national unity is.
KUHN: Sun Jua(ph), an American studies expert at Ching Hua University in Beijing, says that many ordinary Chinese remain angry about recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and President Obama's meeting with Tibet's religious leader, the Dalai Lama. And that constrains Beijing's efforts to improve bilateral ties.
MONTAGNE: (Through translator) One popular idea is that China has expended a lot of resources to improve relations with the U.S., but the U.S. continues to violate China's core national interests. Cooperation is increasing, but the two sides lack even the most basic strategic trust.
KUHN: Anthony, Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.
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