US State Department says US can cooperate with China on N. Korea issue

Posted on : 2021-07-23 17:46 KST Modified on : 2021-07-23 17:46 KST
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is to visit China from Sunday to Monday
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (Reuters/Yonhap News)
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (Reuters/Yonhap News)

The US State Department reiterated that North Korea is an issue on which the US and China can cooperate, suggesting that North Korea could be on the agenda when Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visits China from Sunday to Monday.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price made the comments when asked during the daily press briefing on Wednesday whether Sherman would discuss the North Korea issue while visiting China.

“This is a relationship for us that is predicated principally on competition. There are elements of this relationship that are adversarial,” Price said.

“But there are also going to be elements where our interests are aligned. And in cases where our interests are aligned, we do seek to explore the potential for cooperation.”

“We’ve talked about that in the context of climate, for example. We’ve talked about that in the context of Afghanistan, potentially. We’ve also talked about that in the context of the DPRK,” Price said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.

“It is in no one’s interest for the DPRK to be a threat to the region and potentially beyond. It is in no one’s interest to see a humanitarian catastrophe potentially unfold in the DPRK, and so I think it is safe to say that we do have some alignment of interests when it comes to the DPRK and we’ll be in a position to explore that.”

That suggests that North Korea might appear on the agenda of Sherman’s visit to China. The Biden administration has described its North Korea policy as “a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK” and has proposed dialogue with the North.

So far, North Korea has reportedly ignored those overtures.

The US State Department announced earlier that morning that Sherman would be visiting China from Sunday to Monday and meeting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin. Sherman is the highest-ranking American official to visit China since Biden became president in January.

The State Department said Sherman’s visit is “part of ongoing US efforts to hold candid exchanges with [the People’s Republic of China (PRC)] officials to advance US interests and values and to responsibly manage the relationship” and that Sherman “will discuss areas where we have serious concerns about PRC actions, as well as areas where our interests align.”

Sherman’s visit takes place while relations between the US and China are worsening in the areas of trade, human rights, technology and cybersecurity. Her visit is notable since it could lay the groundwork for meetings between Wang and his American counterpart and eventually between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

If the US and China arrange a summit, it might take place on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting that will be held in Italy in October.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

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