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Obama criticises Jintao over not condemning North Korea's provocative actions openly

December 7, 2010 - Washington

US President Barack Obama has reportedly criticised his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao during a telephonic conversation between the two leaders, saying that Beijing was emboldening North Korea by not challenging its actions in public, according to a senior American administration official.

Last month, Pyongyang had fired dozens of artillery shells at a South Korean island, killing two soldiers and setting dozens of houses ablaze, in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbour since the Korean War ended in 1953.

The New York Times quoted Obama as telling Jintao that China was 'turning a blind eye' to the provocations of North Korean military.

"It was important for the North Koreans to understand that their actions would have consequences, including in their relations with China," Obama told his Chinese counterpart.

According to the source, although Hu did not offer any specific assurances to Obama, he did not even blame America for its joint military drill with South Korea in the Yellow Sea. He also reportedly did not point fingers at the US for its unwillingness to negotiate with Pyongyang.

"The call was meant to be more forward-looking than pointing fingers at the past," the official added.

Obama's pressure on China was reinforced by a three-way meeting of the United States, Japan and South Korea at the State Department on Monday, at which they resolved to mount a united response to North Korea, the paper said.

Earlier, senior US defence officials had warned that the revelation of North Korea's new uranium enrichment facility was testimony to the fact that the country was building atomic weapons.

Right after the attacks, China avoided blaming the North and instead called for emergency six-party talks to establish peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.

China has long propped up the Pyongyang leadership, worried that a collapse of the North could bring instability to its own borders. Beijing is also wary of a unified Korea that would be ominated by the United States, the key ally of the South.


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