U.S. Envoy Christopher Hill says his mission in Asia is to get consensus on how to respond to North Korea's test launches Wednesday of seven missiles - including one with supposed long-range capability. But his visits to China and South Korea do not appear to have produced agreement.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was dispatched to Asia last week after North Korea defied international warnings and test launched seven missiles into the Sea of Japan.
Japan is pushing hard for sanctions - with U.S. support - and the U.N. Security Council expected to vote on a resolution Monday. Hill denies his mission here is to push for sanctions. Instead, he says he is here to make sure regional partners "speak in one voice."
"What is striking to me - and what I hope is striking to the DPRK - is the fact that everybody has reacted with the same sense of anger and outrage at this DRPK action. So what I'd like to do is to build on where we agree on things.
But on the sanctions issue, North Korea's neighbors are far from agreeing. After meetings with Hill in Seoul Saturday and Sunday, South Korean Presidential Security Adviser Song Min-soon questioned if sanctions that Japan supports would work.
"… for the time being, we do not have a clear grounds or reasoning that these sanctions will work for preventing any missile proliferation or any factors that destabilize the regional stability."
And President Roh Moo-hyun's office went further issuing a statement criticizing Japan for "hawkish" remarks on North Korea's missile tests. Hill brushed off the differences between America's chief Asian allies.
Instead he praised Seoul's decision to suspend food aid to the impoverished communist North until the missile issue is resolved.
On Friday in Beijing, Hill also stressed common ground with the Chinese, saying that Beijing and Washington agreed on sending a "clear signal" to North Korea that missile tests are not acceptable.
But China, one of five nations with veto power on the U.N. Security Council, opposes sanctions and instead wants a statement of disapproval.
This is something Japanese Foreign Minister Taso Aso Sunday rejected as "meaningless." Hill meets with Japanese officials in Tokyo Monday.
Meanwhile in Pyongyang Sunday, radio broadcasts quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as saying "not even a tiny concession" would be made to what was referred to as "the imperialist U.S. invaders."
A separate television broadcast threatened "all-out war" if the U.S. sought revenge for the missile launches. North Korea has a history of threatening war or attacks on the United States and it allies during contentious negotiations or international diplomatic crises.