Wolfowitz blocked China hosted summit on North Korea in 1980s: documents Agence France-Presse Agence France-Presse, 25 April 2003 Go to original

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Deputy US Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz blocked a Chinese initiative in the 198Os to hold inter-Korean talks with US officials in attendance, while serving in the State Department, according to documents released.

Wolfowitz, while serving as assistant secretary of state for Asia and Pacific affairs in 1983, opposed the proposal made by late Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping for the conference in Beijing, according to an interview with former US diplomat Charles W. Freeman contained in documents released by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

The documents were released as a modern day meeting on North Korea's nuclear aspirations wrapped up in Beijing between the United States, North Korea and China.

According to leaks in the US press, many among the political leadership at the Pentagon, where Wolfowitz now works, opposed the idea of this week's meeting, as a nuclear crisis with Pyongyang grinds on.

Freeman, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Beijing during the Reagan administration said in the interview that he is not entirely sure why Wolfowitz opposed Deng's proposal.

"I would speculate that there were several reasons," he added.

"First of all, Mr Wolfowitz took a very jaundiced, rather ideological view of China, and was inherently suspicious of any initiative that originated with the Chinese."

"Second, with regard to contacts with North Korea, he was apprehensive about the political reaction from the Republican right, which he has courted and from association with which he has benefited, and therefore he saw that development as politically unattractive."

The documents trace US concerns about the North Korean nuclear program since its discovery at an early stage in the 1980s by the CIA.

They include a diplomatic cable sent in November 1991 from then secretary of state James Baker to defense secretary (now Vice President) Dick Cheney.

Baker, in a time of close cooperation between the State Department and Pentagon which many analysts believe is not mirrored today, told Cheney that South Korea was sensitive to the role of outside powers in dealing with North Korea.

"The US remains key to orchestrating international pressures on their (South Korea's) behalf," Baker wrote.

"In my mind this also means that while we need to be sensitive to South Korea's concerns, they need to appreciate that our security commitments and interests give us a big say too."

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Last modified: Wed Jul 23 01:34:04 CDT 2003