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UN debates steps to be taken against N Korea
Dharam Shourie at the United Nations | October 11, 2006 11:12 IST
China has supported 'appropriate punitive measures' to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
However, it is opposed to tough sanctions suggested by the United States and Japan and wants to ensure that a United Nations Security Council resolution on the issue does not permit military action even by inference.
Beijing also opposes international inspections of cargo ships going UN debatinto and out of the North Korea to ensure that they not carry any materials connected with weapons of mass destruction.
This had been proposed by the United States and also the invocation of chapter seven of the UN Charter, which allows for use of force to enforce the council decisions, diplomats said.
Japan wants still tougher sanctions, which include banning the movement of North Korean ships and planes but diplomats said it is unlikely to find favour with China and, perhaps, Russia, the countries North Korea borders, as they want to keep doors for negotiations open.
But it is possible that there could be a travel ban on high-ranking Pyongyang officials.
It was unclear how far Russia would go so far as sanctions are concerned though, diplomats say, Moscow had made it clear that it was opposed to the use of force.
After prolonged consultations among the veto-wielding permanent five members and Japan, diplomats said they still needed time to bridge the differences though they said they expect the 15-member Council to adopt a resolution by Friday.
After North Korea announced that it has conducted a nuclear weapon test, all members agreed for a swift response but negotiations are dragging in the face of sharp differences among the Permanent Five and Japan.
American UN Ambassador John R Bolton had a brief one-on-one meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Guangya apparently to persuade him to agree to tougher sanctions suggested by his country.
But Wang said later that the Council needs to have 'firm, constructive, appropriate but prudent response'.
The ambassadors, who participated in the discussions, later said the talks were good and constructive but conceded that more work needs to be done as there were some sticking points.
Even as ambassadors at the United Nations and top officials in capitals were trying to finalise the resolution to respond to the North Korean action, lower level diplomats at the UN continued their effort to put the ideas into shape and refine the language.
Bolton told CNN that the military action is on the table though the Bush administration favours a peaceful resolution of the issue.
But military action was finding little support among North Korea's neighbours, including China, Russia and South Korea, which could the most affected country in case of a conflict.