ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed optimism today after meeting with China's leaders about North Korea. She was hopeful that China would vigorously implement U.N. sanctions against the north, which were a response to its nuclear test.
NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing.
ANTHONY KUHN: After meeting with President Hu Jintao and other top leaders, Secretary Rice said that her hosts had apparently reevaluated their relations with their neighbor and decided to take a firmer stand on North Korea. Rice said that China has been scrupulous in inspecting cargo shipments over its land border with North Korea.
The World Food Program says that China has significantly cut its food aid to the North in the past year. And today, branches of the Bank of China and the China Industrial and Commercial Bank in the border city of Dandong told NPR that they had suspended all financial transactions between North Korea and China since the nuclear test.
China provides the vast majority of North Korea's fuel oil, and analysts believe China could turn that tap off too if North Korea continues to ignore China's advice. Beijing wants to avoid a public falling out with its old ally, analysts add, and so it hasn't publicized any of the pressure it's been ratcheting up.
Rice also spoke today to Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan. Tang met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang Thursday. Rice said Tang delivered a strong message to Kim about the seriousness of the nuclear test. But she gave no indication that North Korea has decided to refrain from further nuclear testing or to return to the stalled six-party negotiations that it's boycotted for the past year.
Secretary Rice travels on to Moscow on Saturday for the final leg of her journey in support of the U.N. sanctions against North Korea. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.
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