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U.S. lawmakers seek China's help with North Korea

Several Senate leaders join Secretary of State Clinton in seeking a stronger role for China in containing North Korean aggression.

November 28, 2010|By Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington — With tensions rising on the Korean peninsula, several leading U.S. lawmakers Sunday called on China to play a more constructive role in restraining North Korea.

"Unfortunately, China is not behaving as a responsible world power," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"They could bring the North Korean economy to its knees if they wanted to. And I cannot believe that the Chinese should, in a mature fashion, not find it in their interest to restrain North Korea. So far, they are not."

Chinese officials Sunday called for an emergency resumption of the so-called six-party talks involving North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

China made the request as the United States and South Korea began previously planned military exercises in the seas around the Korean peninsula.

North Korea — which last week shelled a South Korean island, killing four — has condemned the maneuvers, which involve a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle group led by the nuclear-powered carrier USS George Washington.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) called the Chinese proposal for renewed diplomatic talks a "good first step."

But she and other lawmakers from both parties, including Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, also urged a continued strong stand against North Korean belligerence.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said he had talked with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday about China's key role in reducing tensions.

"We both agree that China can play a very valuable role here in trying to bring under control a situation which is very volatile," Durbin said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

noam.levey@latimes.com

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