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Cheney pushes China on N. Korea

From CNN White House Correspondent Dana Bash


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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has presented new information to Chinese leaders on North Korea's nuclear program, a top administration official has said.

The move comes as Washington pushes Beijing -- a longtime ally of Pyongyang -- to be more aggressive in its talks to get Pyongyang's secretive nuclear program dismantled.

Cheney told Chinese leaders that "time is not necessarily on our side with respect to the North Korean nuclear program," a senior administration official told reporters.

"It's important we stay engaged and make progress towards our ultimate objective."

Cheney met Wednesday with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Chairman Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao.

The information about North Korea's nuclear capability was gleaned from Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.

Khan was the godfather of Pakistan's nuclear program, and he has admitted to transferring nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

News reports have said that North Korea may now have several nuclear weapons.

Washington has long pushed for a complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantlement of Pyongyang's nuclear program, and has used six-party talks -- involving the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas -- in a bid to achieve that end.

"We're very much focused on the six-party talks," the official said, "but we need to keep in mind that we need a result here, at the end of the day, and there are developments in North Korea even as we deliberate."

The official said Cheney did not question the sincerity of the Chinese when they say that they would not like to see a nuclear North Korea.

But other administration officials have said the United States thinks China has been "moving too slowly" in the negotiations, and that some information Pakistanis have gotten from Khan may help to push the Chinese.

"Any questions about whether or not North Korea had a program based on highly enriched uranium has been pretty well resolved in our minds as a result of what we heard" through the A.Q. Khan connection," the official said.

"They do have such a program and Mr. A.Q Khan was the source."


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