Rice: No Sign of Kim Jong-Il's 'Regret'
While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice applauded China’s newly active role in reining in the Kim Jong Il regime, primarily economically by freezing the North’s bank accounts, she expressed doubts about reports of North Korea stepping back from the brink of crisis. While reports circulated and were widely repeated Friday that Kim had apologized to Tang Jiaxuan, China’s former foreign minister, and promised not to carry out further tests, the Secretary of State said that Tang told her of no such development in their meetings.
“Tang did not tell me that Kim Jong-Il either apologized for the test or said that he would not ever test again,” Ms. Rice said. She continued, “The Chinese did not, in a fairly thorough briefing to me, say anything about an apology. The North Koreans, I think, would like to see an escalation of the tension.”
While she left China without many tangible commitments from either Beijing or Seoul on strict enforcement of the UN Security Council sanctions, she maintained that North Korea is no less belligerent today than in the days immediately following their failed nuclear test.
With Moscow her last stop in her Asian tour that included China, South Korea and Japan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov harshly criticized the United States’ response to the North Korean nuclear test as “extreme” and “uncompromising.” The American Secretary of State seemed to reply in kind, offering criticism of Russia’s shrinking freedom of the press as she met with the son of slain Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya as well as with the editors and journalists of the newspaper she wrote for, Novaya Gazeta. Russia remains consistently contentious toward American policy as relations between the Cold War foes continue to sour.