S. Korea, China end first summit without key step Beijing silent on pressuring North

September 30, 1992|By Robert Benjamin | Robert Benjamin,Beijing Bureau

BEIJING -- South Korean President Roh Tae Woo ended his historic meeting with Chinese leaders today, with no sign that China will pressure North Korea to accept a key step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, namely inspection of its nuclear facilities.

But in itself, the first summit between China and South Korea further isolates North Korea in a way that may prove the most effective means to force the north to agree to these inspections and to reach a reconciliation with the south.

Moreover, despite official Chinese contentions that international pressure on North Korea would not be productive, some Chinese and Western observers here believe that China now will step up its lobbying.

"This summit has changed the geopolitics of northeast Asia," said a Chinese official, who recently visited South Korea in preparation for increased ties between the two countries.

"North Korea badly wants to improve relations with the rest of the world -- particularly with Japan and the U.S. -- and to do that it has to eventually agree to inspections," said the official. "China will put pressure on North Korea, but it has to be done very, very carefully."

At a press conference yesterday, Mr. Roh called North Korea's reluctance to agree to these inspections the main "stumbling block" to achieving peace between the two Koreas and to U.S. and Japanese recognition of the Pyongyang regime.

North Korea has offered no public reaction to Mr. Roh's visit here, which follows the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea August 24.

China bolstered North Korea during its 1950-53 war with South Korea, and since then it has been the north's closest supporter. Yesterday, even as Mr. Roh was meeting in Beijing with Chinese leaders, North Korea hailed its long friendship with China, according to a release from its official news agency.

But in private, North Korea is said to have protested vehemently China's diplomatic opening to South Korea.

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