Reports of NKorea apology inaccurate: China
Beijing, Oct 24: Reports that North Korea had apologised for conducting a nuclear test were ''inaccurate'', China today said, adding there was no guarantee the reclusive state would not test again.
The remarks from Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao were China's first official reaction to media reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told a visiting Chinese envoy that Pyongyang regretted the difficulties its October 9 nuclear test had caused its neighbour and did not plan another test.
''These reports are inaccurate. I haven't heard of Kim Jong-il apologising,'' Liu told a regular news conference.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had earlier cast doubt on the reports. She told reporters that the Chinese envoy, Tang Jiaxuan, had not mentioned the apology or no-test promise when she and Tang met in Beijing on Friday, a day after Tang met Kim in Pyongyang.
Speaking of Kim's remarks, Liu said: ''He (Kim) also indicated that the DPRK has no plans for a second nuclear test but if other countries impose more pressure, the DPRK may take further steps.'' The DPRK is the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Liu's comments appeared to be a warning that if goaded by international weapons and financial sanctions imposed in punishment for its test, the isolated nation could again defy international warnings with a second nuclear test.
In a sign China took Kim's threat seriously, Liu also warned against expanding the sanctions.
''All parties should not wilfully interpret or expand the sanctions,'' he said.
China, which has traditionally opposed sanctions and advocated dialogue, supported the UN Security Council action against North Korea and condemned the North's test in unusually forceful language.
But Beijing also fears any sanctions that could squeeze impoverished North Korea so tightly that it collapses, causing instability on its borders and a potential wave of refugees.
''Sanctions are not the end. They should serve the goal of peacefully settling the crisis through dialogue and consultation,'' Liu said.
He added that during Tang's visit, North Korea had restated that it was willing to return to six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear programme.
The talks, which also group the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia, have been stalled for nearly a year.