July 15, 2006

UN may be close to deal on N.Korea resolution

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Japan and the United States
insisted on a U.N. Security Council vote on Saturday on a
resolution condemning North Korea's barrage of missile launches
amid signs of a compromise with China.

After a flurry of negotiations on Friday, Japan produced a
new draft resolution that sought to bridge the differences with
China. But Beijing's ambassador said he would still veto it
unless more changes were made, which many diplomats expect when
council members resume negotiations on Saturday.

"My instructions are to get a vote by tomorrow (Saturday),"
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters. Tokyo's U.N.
ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, said, "Japan stands on the same

The key obstacle is whether the resolution should invoke
Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can lay the groundwork for
military force. But China and Russia, who on Wednesday
introduced a rival draft, reject any mention of Chapter 7.

Bolton indicated he was amenable to using other language
which would make the resolution mandatory as Chapter 7 language
does. But Japan's Oshima was silent and his last draft still
included Chapter 7.

Britain and France suggested alternative wording and
China's ambassador, Wang Guangya, was in agreement and said he
would check with his government, diplomats told Reuters.

U.N. Security Council members have negotiated for days over
how best to respond to North Korea's seven missile tests on
July 5 that raised international tensions, mainly because of
its development of nuclear weapons.

Japan wanted to have the resolution adopted before a summit
of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, which opened on
Saturday and is expected to issue a statement on North Korea.

But Wang said "the important thing is not the deadline. It
is the unity of the council."

"There are too many fires there. We don't need to put oil
on all those fires," he said in an apparent reference to the
Middle East crisis and debates over Iran's nuclear ambitions.


The latest text circulated by Japan and its supporters
condemns the missile launches and demands that North Korea
suspend "all activities" on its ballistic missiles.

It includes sanctions by requiring that all U.N. member
states prevent any imports to or exports from North Korea of
missiles and missile-related items and materials that could be
used in weapons of mass destruction.

The new language from Britain and France would highlight
the council's "special responsibility for the maintenance of
international peace and security," according to one diplomat
who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret

A Chapter 7 resolution is used to make the document legally
binding but some council members now contend that all Security
Council resolutions are mandatory.

Saying that Russia and China had come a long way in
agreeing to a tough resolution, Bolton told reporters that a
"resolution can be legally binding without using ... the magic
word Abracadabra," such as Chapter 7.

Meanwhile, North Korea recalled all its top envoys from
foreign countries for a meeting next week, the first time it
has done this in five years, the South Korean JoongAng Ilbo
newspaper reported on Saturday.

The U.N. resolution was delayed in part because of a
high-level Chinese delegation in Pyongyang, which just returned
but so far has not reported any positive results.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lee Kyu-hyung was due to
arrive in Beijing on Saturday for talks with Chinese Vice
Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who was in Pyongyang on the mission
led by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu.

Seoul's diplomatic moves came after Pyongyang stormed out
of cabinet-level talks with the South on Thursday.

Japan has come under harsh criticism from China and South
Korea for its stern stance on the missile crisis.

Tokyo's ties with both countries are bedeviled by bitter
memories of Japanese wartime aggression, while Sino-Japanese
relations are also strained by rivalry for regional dominance.

(Additional reporting by George Nishiyama and Linda Sieg in
Tokyo and Jack Kim in Seoul)