WASHINGTON, June 10, 2013 – During their two-days of informal talks in Rancho Mirage, Calif., that concluded yesterday, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingpin agreed that North Korea must denuclearize, and that the United States and China will work together to resolve cybersecurity and other issues, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told reporters in Palm Springs, Calif., yesterday.
“I’d say at the outset that the President had very good discussions in an informal atmosphere, uniquely informal atmosphere, with President Xi over the last two days,” Donilon told reporters. “The discussions were positive and constructive, wide-ranging and quite successful in achieving the goals that we set forth for this meeting.”
A specific goal of the talks, Donilon said, was “to build a personal relationship between the President and President Xi, and have an opportunity not under the pressure of being on the margins of another multilateral meeting to really sit down and explore the contours of the U.S.-China relationship.”
During dinner on June 7, Obama and Xi “had a lengthy discussion about North Korea,” Donilon said. China, he added, has taken a number of steps in recent months to send a clear message to North Korea, including through enhanced enforcement of sanctions and through public statements by the senior leadership in China.
Obama and Xi “agreed that North Korea has to denuclearize; that neither country will accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state; and that we would work together to deepen U.S.-China cooperation and dialogue to achieve denuclearization,” Donilon said.
Obama also emphasized to President Xi “that the United States will take any steps that we need to take to defend ourselves and our allies from the threat that North Korea presents,” he added.
“The two sides stressed the importance of continuing to apply pressure both to halt North Korea’s ability to proliferate and to make clear that its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is incompatible with its economic development goals,” Donilon said. “The discussions on this issue, I believe, will allow us to continue to move ahead and work in a careful way in terms of our cooperation to work together to achieve our ends.”
The bottom line, Donilon said, “is I think we had quite a bit of alignment on the Korean issue — North Korean issue, and absolute agreement that we would continue to work together on concrete steps in order to achieve the joint goals that the United States and China have with respect to the North Korean nuclear program.”
Yesterday morning, Obama and Xi discussed economic issues, during which cybersecurity and other cyber issues were an important topic, Donilon said. The United States and China, he said, have a half-a-trillion-dollar-a-year trade relationship.
“Obviously, given the importance of our economic ties, the President made clear the threat posed to our economic and national security by cyber-enabled economic espionage,” Donilon said. “And I want to be clear on exactly what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about here are efforts by entities in China to, through cyber attacks, engage in the theft of public and private property — intellectual property and other property in the United States. And that is the focus here, which is why it was in the economic discussion this morning.
“And again, we had a detailed discussion on this,” he continued. “The President underscored that resolving this issue is really key to the future of U.S.-China economic relations. He asked President Xi to continue to look seriously at the problem that we’ve raised here.”
The Chinese have agreed to look at this, Donilon said, noting that Obama and Xi have provided guidance to the new cyber working group that’s been established as part of the U.S.-China strategic economic dialogue.
The cyber working group “will engage in a dialogue on the rules and norms of behavior in cyberspace that will explore confidence-building measures,” Donilon said. “And we instructed the teams to report back on their discussions to the leaders.”
Obama and Xi also discussed military-to-military relationships between the United States and China, Donilon said.
“It’s the military-to-military relationship that lags behind our political and our economic relationship,” Donilon said. “This was acknowledged on the Chinese side, and we actually have some momentum behind increasing and deepening these relationships as we go forward here, as we try to build a comprehensive and positive relationship with China.”
Returning to the two presidents’ discussion about North Korea, Donilon said, “The important point here is full agreement on the goals — that is denuclearization; full agreement that in fact the Security Council resolutions which put pressure on North Korea need to be enforced, and full agreement that we will work together to look at steps that need to be taken in order to achieve the goal.”
If North Korea continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program, that would allow it to become a proliferator, which would present a threat to the United States … “and which would allow them to really up-end, if you will, security in Northeast Asia,” Donilon said.
“A recognized nuclear weapon state in Pyongyang, weapons program in Pyongyang would of course have profound implications in the rest of Northeast Asia, and these are obviously results that the Chinese don’t want to see,” Donilon added. “They’re results the United States doesn’t want to see. So I think what you have essentially underway here is a shared threat analysis and a shared analysis as to what the implications and impact would be of North Korea pursuing a nuclear weapons program.”