China welcomes US openness to Korea talks
China has welcomed an apparently softer tone by the United States on the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis but stressed its opposition to a US missile defence system being deployed in South Korea.
Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on North Korea and other countries on Thursday to avoid behaviour or rhetoric that could increase tensions around Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
Speaking at a news conference in Moscow after talks, the two leaders said they had agreed to cooperate closely to try to help defuse tensions around North Korea.
China has long promoted dialogue to resolve the Korean nuclear issue as North Korea has repeatedly threatened to destroy the United States.
Washington has in turn warned that “all options are on the table” in ending North Korean provocations.
North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is a major security challenge confronting President Donald Trump, who has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020.
Trump’s administration said on Wednesday it aimed to push North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and missile programmes, which are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, through tougher international sanctions and diplomatic pressure.
“The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies,” read a statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior officials.”
Asked about the US comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had noted that many US officials had recently made such remarks.
“We have noted these expressions, and have noted the message conveyed in these expressions hoping to resolve the Korean nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and consultation,” he said.
“We believe this message is positive and should be affirmed.”
South Korea and the United States agreed on Thursday on “swift punitive measures” against North Korea in the event of further provocation.