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Don’t let up on N. Korea, Cheney says

SHARE Don’t let up on N. Korea, Cheney says

BEIJING — Vice President Dick Cheney presented Chinese leaders with new evidence about the scope of North Korea's nuclear program and warned that "time is not necessarily on our side" in continuing negotiations, a senior Bush administration official said on Wednesday.

Cheney told President Hu Jintao and other top leaders that the United States remained committed to six-nation talks that have met twice under Chinese auspices, so far without tangible progress, to find a solution to the nuclear standoff. But he stressed that the talks must show "real results" soon, without setting a timetable.

"It is important to stay engaged and to make progress," the senior official said. "But we need to keep in mind that we need results and that they are developing nuclear weapons as we deliberate."

The discussions about North Korea were held during Cheney's three-day visit to China. The two sides also addressed China's tense relations with Taiwan, its large trade surplus with the United States, and U.S. concerns about human rights abuses here.

U.S. officials emphasized that they had held talks about China's wireless encryption standards and its poor enforcement of intellectual property rights, among the top concerns of American companies that do business here.

The visit was the most extensive exchange between the Bush administration and top Chinese leaders since the Communist Party handed power to Hu in late 2002.

On North Korea, Cheney "brought to the attention" of Chinese leaders a report in The New York Times on Tuesday that quoted Bush administration and Asian officials as saying that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who has acknowledged selling weapons technology around the world, claims to have seen three nuclear devices in North Korea five years ago.

Cheney told the Chinese that Khan's confession also shows that North Korea has been pursuing two ways of making nuclear bombs — through plutonium and enriched uranium. That is a subject of dispute between China and the United States.

"What is new is what we have learned about their capability," the senior administration official said. The official implied that China, which exercises considerable influence over North Korea, needs to achieve a breakthrough in coming talks to forestall sanctions against the North.

China's main concern during Cheney's visit was Taiwan, which it claims as its territory, and the recent narrow re-election of President Chen Shui-bian, whom Beijing views as determined to formally establish Taiwan as an independent nation.

Though Chinese officials pressed Cheney to reduce U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, Cheney rejected those demands and stuck closely to established U.S. policy.