Ananth Krishnan

But agreements on clean energy, nuclear safety

BEIJING: The United States and China appeared unable to bridge differences over approaches to address tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the valuation of China's currency over two days of talks, but announced new agreements to expand co-operation in clean energy, nuclear safety and trade financing.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday reiterated the need for Chinese support for a strong international response and action against North Korea, following the March 26 attack on a South Korean warship which left 46 sailors dead.

“No one is more concerned about peace and stability in this region as the Chinese,” Ms. Clinton told reporters following the conclusion of the two-day strategic and economic dialogue. “We know this is a shared responsibility and in the days ahead we will work with the international community and our Chinese colleagues to fashion an effective, appropriate response.”

She said the U.S. expected “to be working together with China” in crafting an international response to the attack. Chinese officials, however, publicly refrained from offering support to any new round of sanctions, as South Korea has been calling for. State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Tuesday only repeated China's position, calling all parties “to exercise restraint” and “avoid an escalation of the tension”, suggesting there had been no breakthrough during the talks.

Over the valuation of the Yuan currency, which the U.S. says has been under-valued by China to support its exports, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the U.S. recognised China's moves to reform its exchange-rate mechanism. He, however, added that the U.S. accepted that doing so was “China's choice.”

He said the two sides had, however, made progress on other trade issues, including the Chinese government's procurement policies which U.S. companies here had voiced objections to, saying they favoured domestic companies.

Despite persisting differences on key issues, the two countries on Tuesday also unveiled seven agreements on co-operating in clean energy, trade financing and nuclear safety. Among the agreements was a memorandum of understanding regarding the safety of the Westinghouse AP 1000 nuclear reactor, which will be used in Chinese power plants.

The two countries also agreed a deal on joint exploration and research into shale gas resources in China, a type of natural gas used as an energy source.