Rice Pressures China on N. Korea

APNorth Koreans looking at a concert program on Tuesday before the New York Philharmonic perfomed in Pyongyang.
BEIJING -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that she expected China to help prod North Korea into fully declaring its nuclear programs as part of efforts to breathe life into a stalled disarmament process.

Kicking off a brief visit to Beijing, Rice also repeated her earlier criticisms of a referendum planned by China's rival Taiwan on joining the United Nations.

She said she also discussed with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi the need for a new UN resolution to pressure Iran into cooperating with nuclear inspectors. The sides, meanwhile, also recommitted themselves to renewed dialogue on religious and civil rights.

Washington still awaits a "complete and full declaration" from North Korea as promised last year, Rice told reporters.

"I am expecting from China what I am expecting from others: that we will use all influence possible with the North Koreans to convince them that it is time to move forward," Rice said.

Yang said China, the host of six-nation talks on North Korea's denuclearization process, had been in "close talks" with the North, its longtime communist ally whose shattered economy it is helping prop up.

"China will continue to play an important role in moving this forward," Yang said.

China's Foreign Ministry said Rice would also meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, a senior adviser on foreign affairs. She was due to leave Wednesday for Japan, the third stop on a regional tour to jump-start a year-old agreement, under which North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear programs in return for aid and diplomatic benefits.

While Pyongyang maintains a large diplomatic mission in Beijing, Rice has ruled out talks with North Korean officials during her official stay in China, saying such a meeting was unwarranted and could not be of any use in the current circumstances.

Although North Korea shut down its main nuclear reactor last year, U.S. researchers who visited the complex earlier this month reported that officials there said they had slowed the removal of fuel rods. They said that was because the United States and other nations have fallen behind in supplying aid promised under the disarmament deal.

While Washington has praised Beijing's constructive role over North Korea, the sides remain at loggerheads over Iran and other issues.

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, has said it would not support a new resolution on Iran, and Yang reiterated Beijing's aversion to Washington's confrontational approach.

Yang also expressed appreciation for U.S. support over the Taiwanese referendum. China, which claims the self-governing island as its own territory, sees the referendum as a step toward formal independence, something it has threatened to block by force.

 The New York Philharmonic brought musical diplomacy to the heart of communist North Korea in a historic concert Tuesday, playing a program highlighting American music in the nuclear-armed country that considers the U.S. its mortal enemy.

The Philharmonic, which began with North Korea's national anthem, "Patriotic Song," is the first major American cultural group to perform in the country and brought the largest-ever delegation from the United States to visit its longtime foe.

After performing North Korea's national song, the Philharmonic followed with the U.S. anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The audience stood during both anthems and held their applause until both had been performed.