Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
SEOUL - China delivered a "very strong" message from President Hu Jintao to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at a meeting in Pyongyang yesterday, said a U.S. official traveling to Beijing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Reports from the meeting with Chinese envoy Tang Jiaxuan encouraged Miss Rice's delegation, which yesterday won assurances in Seoul that the South Korean government will rethink its policy of engagement with the North and draw up implementation plans for U.N. sanctions against the nuclear-armed state by mid-November.
Miss Rice arrived in Beijing today for the third and most important stop on her tour of East Asian capitals. The trip is aimed at ensuring full enforcement of sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council last weekend in response to a North Korean nuclear test.
In Washington, a U.S. intelligence source told Reuters news agency yesterday the United States is monitoring a North Korean vessel that appears to be suspicious.
"It isn't clear what it's carrying. It's a suspicious vessel," the source said.
"CBS Evening News," quoting U.S. intelligence sources, reported that a North Korean ship possibly carrying military equipment banned by U.N. sanctions had left for an unknown destination.
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency reported yesterday that Mr. Kim's meeting with Mr. Tang was conducted in a "friendly atmosphere" and that the Chinese diplomat had brought an unspecified gift for Mr. Kim.
"Discussed there were the issues of developing the relations of friendship between the two countries and ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, and a series of international issues of mutual concern," the agency said.
A senior U.S. official traveling with Miss Rice said the Americans think Mr. Tang had more on his mind than mutual friendship.
"I'm pretty convinced that the Chinese will have a very strong message about future tests," the official said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, quoted by the Associated Press in Beijing, said he had no details of the message but that the two had discussed the nuclear dispute.
"This is a very significant visit against the backdrop of major changes on the Korean Peninsula," Mr. Liu said at a regular press briefing. "We hope China's diplomatic efforts .. will bear fruit."
The U.S. official said Mr. Tang, a state council member and a former foreign minister, met with Miss Rice and briefly with President Bush at the White House last week but had not mentioned any plans to visit Pyongyang.
The official also said the South Koreans had agreed to "engage in full-scale evaluation of North-South relations" and to "have a full program in place" on how to respond to Pyongyang's Oct. 9 nuclear test no later than Nov. …