Rice Hopes 'Taiwan' Law Will Convince Europe Not to Deal Arms to China
|By Joel Brinkley
Published: March 15, 2005
NEW DELHI, March 15 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, beginning a six-nation Asian tour, said today that she hoped a new Chinese law approved this week authorizing an invasion of Taiwan if the island seeks independence would dissuade Europe from resuming arm sales to China.
"I hope it will remind the Europeans that there are still tensions in the region," she said, speaking to reporters on her plane. "It is not a time to end the embargo."
Europe wants to lift its arms embargo, which was imposed in 1989 after China's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.
European leaders say that would be an important way to improve business and political relations with China. But during President Bush's visit to Europe last month, he made it quite clear he opposed that idea.
Ms. Rice intends to visit China near the end of a trip that is also taking her to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Japan and South Korea.
A primary mission during the latter part of the trip, to East Asia, is to talk over new strategies for persuading North Korea to rejoin the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. And while China is agitating for arms sales from Europe, the Bush Administration is also heavily dependent on China in its effort to get the North Korean disarmament talks restarted. China is North Korea's only important ally.
The talks are stalled; some analysts say they are dead. The parties have not met since last June, and today, North Korea threatened to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, "to cope with the extremely hostile attempt of the U.S. to bring down" the North Korean government, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to the official KCNA news agency.
Visiting China last April, Vice President Dick Cheney urged Beijing to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms, saying said "time is not necessarily on our side." Since then, North Korea has announced that it has one or more nuclear weapons and has threatened never to return to disarmament talks of any kind.
Asked about North Korea's latest statement, Ms. Rice said she would not try to get inside the psyche of the leaders in Pyongyang but added that the latest statement was intended to distract attention from the demands to return to the talks, "I don't think the North Koreans should be allowed to change the subject," she said.
Ms. Rice said she did not think the last year had been wasted. North Korea, she noted, is even more isolated now than a year ago, and "the unity of message and purpose" between the nations involved in the talks "has been very clear." The United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea are the other parties to the talks.
Ms. Rice said the United States has "no intention of attacking or invading North Korea," as the Foreign ministry spokesman had suggested. But she added, "I am here to discuss what we can do to get the talks moving forward." Foreign diplomats said a topic for discussion will be whether to offer incentives to persuade North Korea to return to the talks. South Korea, Russia and China have favored that idea, but until now the United States and Japan have opposed it. Ms. Rice, in her discussion with reporters, made no reference to the subject of incentives.
"What North Korea wants," she said, "is to get into bilateral talks" with the United States and the other four nations so they can "cut separate deals" with each of them.
In India and Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday, Ms. Rice said, she will discuss democratization and the war on terror. Washington has embraced Pakistan as an important ally since the Sept. 11 attacks, and to keep balance in the region, it is also stressing the warmth of its relationship with India.
"With India we clearly have a broader and deeper relationship than we've ever had, and I look forward to having a chance to talk with the Indians about continuing to broaden and deepen that relationship," Ms. Rice said.
Ms. Rice said she was excited about the planned visit to Afghanistan; she has never been there before. She plans to meet with President Hamid Karzai and discuss the coming parliamentary elections, as well as counternarcotics efforts. A State Department report last week said that opium poppy production in Afghanistan tripled last year after doubling in 2002, the first year after the United States overthrew the Taliban.
The report also said Afghanistan was "on the verge of becoming a narcotics state."