WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) said the United States is relying on China (search) to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, despite Beijing's reluctance to exert pressure on its neighbor.
Talks involving China, the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea have been sidelined for nearly a year, even as North Korea says it is building atomic bombs. Cheney said China could have a big impact on reviving the stalled talks because it shares North Korea's (search) longest border and is its chief trading partner.
"The Chinese need to understand that it's incumbent upon them to be major players here," Cheney said in a taped interview with "Larry King Live" scheduled to air Monday night.
Chinese officials have said they do not want to impose sanctions or other economic pressure on North Korea because they don't believe they would be effective. They have said they prefer to resolve the dispute through continuing dialogue.
Cheney said the nations involved in the six-party talks are trying to make North Korea understand that they will cut off relationships with the outside world, including trade, if they do not end nuclear ambitions. But he acknowledged they have had trouble making the case.
"To date, you know, those talks have not produced much," Cheney said in excerpts of the interview released. "We're continuing to work it very hard."
Cheney said North Korea is "a major problem." He described North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (search) as "one of the world's most irresponsible leaders," who runs a police state and leaves his people in poverty and malnutrition.
"And he obviously wants to throw his weight around and become a nuclear power," Cheney said.