Barack Obama to press Xi Jinping on North Korea: White House

Washington: US President Barack Obama is expected to press his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to reign in North Korea’s leadership during a meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit here, the White House said on Wednesday.

Obama and Xi are scheduled to meet here tomorrow. “This will present an opportunity to address the threat posed by North Korea and also to advance US and China cooperation on a range of issues,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters during a conference call to preview the National Security Summit.

“It in their interest. The destabilisation in their neighbourhood, these provocations out of North Korea, that is only counterproductive for China,” he said.

“They do not benefit at all from seeing that type of behavior emanating from North Korea. So we do believe that we have a shared interest in preventing destabilisation on the Korean Peninsula and in promoting denuclearisation. And that’s the basis on which we’re able to pursue cooperation,” he said. China, he noted, has stepped up in many ways in terms of applying pressure on North Korea.

“The fact is, it has to over time affect the calculus of the North Korean leadership. And thus far, they have not shifted course and upheld their own commitments to denuclearisation and that’s why we will of course have a continued dialogue with both China and South Korea and Japan,” he said.

Dan Kritenbrink, National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs said the two leaders will have a candid exchange on areas where they continue to have significant differences, including things such as human rights, cyber, maritime issues, as well.The Obama-Xi meeting, he said, is part of a continuum of senior-level engagements between the two countries.

“President Xi was here for a state visit last September. The two presidents then met in Paris on November 30 on the margins of the Paris climate summit. And the two have had three phone calls since then. We also anticipate that they will meet again on the margins of the G20 in China in September,” he said.

Kritenbrink said the high tempo of senior-level engagement with China is a recognition of the fact that this is where problems get solved and decisions get made. Obama’s direct engagement with Xi during the Paris climate negotiations helped to move forward the joint efforts and secure an ambitious climate agreement, he noted.

Also, Obama’s phone call to Xi in February supported reaching an agreement on impactful UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, he said.