WASHINGTON – The White House joined in the push Thursday to overcome efforts by China and Russia in the United Nations Security Council to water down and delay voting on a U.S. draft resolution on North Korea.
President Bush led the drive, meeting Thursday with Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, a special envoy of China President Hu Jintao, who then met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, his deputy J.D. Crouch, and Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.
"I think the Chinese clearly understand the gravity of the situation," Rice said during a photo opportunity at the State Department with the Hungarian Minister of foreign affairs. "They clearly understand that the North Koreans, in doing this, have made the environment much less stable, much less secure.
"And they're working very hard in New York, but I believe we'll get a very good resolution that will demonstrate to the North Koreans that the international community is very much united in its condemnation of this test that was carried out a couple of days ago," she said.
The meetings came as the U.N. Security Council considers which approach to take to deal with North Korea's proclaimed nuclear test nearly a week ago.
China has joined other U.N. Security Council members in unanimously condemning North Korea's claimed test, but has backed away from accepting a plan that would impose severe economic sanctions on its troublesome ally.
Tang did not discuss the details of a resolution, Crouch said, but demonstrated "broad understanding that there needed to be a strong response and I think that the details of that are going to have to be negotiated."
"Everybody agrees that we have to deal with the — this North Korean nuclear test, we have to have a resolution in New York and that we're going to have to take some strong measures to convince the North Koreans that the true path for their future really is to get back to discussions, to implement the September 2004 joint statement and to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula," Crouch said.
North Korea has said that any sanctions against it would be an act of war, and it has threatened more nuclear tests. China, North Korea's strongest trade partner, fears that if it imposes sanctions, streams of starving North Koreans will seek refuge across the shared border. Earlier Thursday, China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said "punishment should not be the purpose" of a U.N. response.
Crouch said negotiations will be worked out at the global body.
"That is obviously something that's going to be left for negotiation up in New York," Crouch said.
Crouch said diplomatic approaches to deal with North Korea are still being coordinated, and that the six-party talks are still the best framework for imposing "maximum influence" on Pyongyang.
China and the United States are joined by Russia, South Korea and Japan in trying to influence North Korea through the six-party process. North Korea has said it wants one-on-one talks with the United States, a proposal that was dismissed by Bush again during a press conference Thursday.
Crouch would not say whether China is backing away from imposing a travel ban and financial sanctions on the North.
In China, the foreign ministry said China and the United States were discussing a possible visit to Beijing by Rice. The State Department had no details on Rice's travel plans.
FOX News' Bret Baier and The Associated Press contributed to this report.