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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BEIJING3313 2009-12-11 10:10 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beijing
DE RUEHBJ #3313/01 3451022
O 111022Z DEC 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 003313 


EO 12958 DECL: 12/11/2034 

Classified By: Political Minster Counselor Aubrey Carlson. Reasons 1.4  (b/d).


1. (C) Under Secretary Burns met with Director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee International Liaison Department (CCID) Wang Jiarui December 9 to discuss U.S.-China cooperation on North Korea and Iran. Wang said that the “ideal outcome” of Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth’s current visit to Pyongyang would be a meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. The very fact of the visit, Wang emphasized, was important because it sent a signal to the DPRK that the United States was serious about negotiating a settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.  The DPRK would be unwilling in the short run to publicly announce denuclearization or an immediate return to the Six-Party talks, but would not want to lose the opportunity presented by Ambassador Bosworth’s visit. The important thing was to keep things moving in the right direction and prevent the situation spinning out of control.

2. (C) Wang praised U.S. policy on Iran, calling it a “practical” approach. He said China was in agreement with the United States “in principle” that Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and that the consequences of such an event would have a negative impact on Chinese interests. He also said that China would cooperate in persuading Iran to live up to the commitments it made at the October meeting in Geneva with the P5-plus-1 to resume discussions on the nuclear issue and allow third countries to reprocess its nuclear fuel. However, Wang insisted, continued diplomacy, rather than military action or stronger sanctions, was the best option at present. U/S Burns stressed the importance of China’s cooperation and would not close the door on diplomacy but that U.S. patience was wearing thin and Iran had to soon show it was complying with international agreements or face real consequences. End Summary.

China Pleased With Bosworth Visit to DPRK

3. (C) Asked his views on the North Korea nuclear situation, CCID Director Wang stated that China was very pleased that Ambassador Bosworth was in Pyongyang, noting that the visit would be “cost effective” because the North Koreans had made clear there could be no resuming the Six-Party Talks without first convening a bilateral U.S.-DPRK dialogue. Ambassador Bosworth’s visit effectively “kicked the ball” back to the North Koreans. When asked what the likely outcome of the talks would be, Wang said the ideal outcome would be a meeting with Kim Jong-il, which would send a very positive signal, but it was impossible to predict North Korean behavior through “normal” means of reading public indicators.  Wang said that Ambassador Bosworth would likely meet with First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju, who was “a hardliner” with “strong views” and whose opinions were valued by the DPRK’s top leaders. However, Kang had to follow orders from above, Wang noted, and would not want to lose such an opportunity to improve relations with the United States. The negotiations with Ambassador Bosworth would be a bargaining process, with each side trying to discern the other’s bottom line.

4. (C) The North needed a breakthrough in its relations with the United States, Wang asserted, both because of its domestic situation and the current international environment, but it would not be easy for North Korea to make a specific promise regarding a return to the Six-Party Talks or to announce denuclearization. Ambassador Bosworth’s trip itself was important because it demonstrated that the United States was serious about preventing a nuclear Korean peninsula and was committed to a peaceful resolution of the issue. Wang said China was aware that the United States worried that it would be deceived by the North but in China’s view there was no need to worry because the current process of promoting dialogue and negotiations was quite transparent and the international community would know what the outcome would be.
5. (C) Wang reiterated China’s long-standing position that the key objective at this stage was to prevent the situation on the Korean peninsula from spinning out of control and to establish a positive direction through dialogue and negotiation. He said that Ambassador Bosworth should make clear to North Korea that it was not in U.S. interests to prolong the current state of hostility, that the United States had no intention of promoting regime change in the North, and that international sanctions and relations with the DPRK’s neighbors could be changed and they could help

BEIJING 00003313 002 OF 003
with North Korea’s economic development. This was contingent upon a change in North Korean behavior and an eventual North Korean pledge to the world that it would not embark on the road to nuclear weapons. U/S Burns responded that the United States understood the complexity of the situation and emphasized the great importance of joint U.S.-China and Five-Party efforts to bring North Korea back as soon as possible to the Six-Party Talks and its denuclearization commitments.

Unified U.S.-China Effort Needed on Iran

6. (C) U/S Burns emphasized that the nuclear weapons challenge in Iran required a similarly unified U.S.-China and international effort. The United States was profoundly concerned about Middle East stability, which was crucial to both U.S. and Chinese security and economic interests. If Iran continued developing a nuclear capability, Israel would “no doubt” act, and concern among the Arab states might trigger a regional arms race. President Obama had repeatedly reached out to Iran’s leaders, but had yet to receive a positive response. Moreover, Iran had not followed through on the understandings reached in Geneva in October, including Iran’s commitment to meet with the P5-plus-1 countries for talks focused on the nuclear issue and its initial acceptance of the IAEA’s TRR proposal. The United States would continue to take a diplomatic, creative and flexible approach working with our Russian, Chinese and European partners, but time was running short. By the end of the year, President Obama would have to evaluate Iran’s actions thus far. If Iran did not live up to its agreements, the United States would work with its international partners to make clear to Iran the consequences of its unwillingness to engage seriously.
Wang Pledges Chinese Support...


7. (C) Wang had high praise for U.S. efforts in the Middle East in general and the approach to Iran in particular, stating that China viewed U.S. measures in Iran as very practical and as based on realities on the ground. China had economic interests in Iran, but, in principle, China had no differences with the United States on the nuclear weapons issue. China agreed that Iranian nuclear weapons would bring great instability to the Middle East, including possible warfare, even on a global scale, with consequences far greater than China’s economic interests. China agreed with the IAEA proposal and that Iran should live up to the commitments it made in Geneva, but unfortunately, Iran had not responded positively to this proposal despite many efforts by the United States, China, and the international community. China had consistently told Iran that China strongly opposed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. This message, he claimed, has been conveyed in party-to-party and government-to-government meetings and in “all channels.” However, Iran maintained it had no nuclear weapons and was simply pursuing the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

...But Urges Continued Diplomacy

8. (C) Wang pressed U/S Burns for details on when the limits of U.S. patience might be exhausted and counseled further efforts to find a diplomatic solution. Burns replied that U.S. patience was nearly exhausted. Wang acknowledged that there was a potential for an Israeli military strike were the situation not handled properly, which was of grave concern to China, but insisted that harsh actions were not yet warranted. Recent U.S. experience with a military option, he said, should teach some lessons, and the outcome of tougher sanctions was also unpredictable. The United States needed to understand that Iran was not Iraq, and the best way forward was to continue to pursue peaceful dialogue and negotiations and to carefully examine previous diplomatic efforts to see what changes needed to be made.

North Korea and Iran Similarities

9. (C) Wang also claimed similarities between the North Korea and Iran nuclear issues. The solution in both cases was to persist over the long haul, continuing intensive efforts with the objective of ensuring that the situation did not spin out of control. Wang noted that in his several recent visits to Iran anti-American sentiment was strong, everywhere, and palpable, which, he said, was not conducive to resolving the issue.

10. (C) Wang asked U/S Burns for his views on who made final decisions in Iran, President Ahmadinejad or Supreme Leader
BEIJING 00003313 003 OF 003
Khamenei. He said it would be very helpful to China if the decision-making process in Iran could be sorted out. Wang appeared to agree with the Under Secretary that Khamenei was the final arbiter of Iranian policy and concluded by stating that there might be a way for direct communication with the Supreme Leader. He said direct engagement would avoid the distortions of message that occurred when communicating through an intermediary. Wang noted that there was not one country in the international arena that supported Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and emphasized that there was a need for a unified international view on Iran.

11. (C) U/S Burns responded that the United States had made very clear its willingness for direct diplomacy, but that it took both sides to make direct communication work. He emphasized that this was a core national security issue for the United States, which could not abide greater Middle East instability, and said the United States would continue its diplomatic efforts in a creative and flexible manner. However, he stated, at some point there had to be results and U.S. patience was fast running out.

U.S.-China Cooperation

12. (C) Wang said China would continue to make its own efforts on the issue but China was willing to do more to cooperate with the United States to facilitate a resolution to the Iran nuclear problem. He welcomed further U.S. suggestions on measures to achieve a breakthrough and asked what the United States would like China to do or whether there were areas in which China could make a contribution. U/S Burns emphasized that the United States would like to cooperate with China and needed to work closely with China to find a way to persuade Iran to make the right choices. The current focus was on persuading Iran to live up to the commitments it made at the Geneva meetings on the TRR proposal and by meeting again soon on the nuclear issue. The two P5-plus-1 tracks -- diplomacy and sanctions -- were not mutually exclusive. The United States had tried many approaches to Iran in the past 11 weeks, and none had borne fruit. The United States would not close the door on diplomacy, but as in the case of putting pressure on North Korea through UN Resolution 1874, we had to work together to apply pressure to get Iran back to the diplomatic track. Iran had to understand that it faced a clear choice. Iran could choose to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which the United States supported and would work to implement if Iran demonstrated the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program. But Iran had to understand there were costs to not following this path. Wang agreed that both sides should try very hard to resolve the problem.