China to US, NKorea: Hit the Brakes 08/16 06:16
China has urged the United States and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on
threatening words and work toward a peaceful resolution of their tense standoff
created by Pyongyang's recent missile tests and threats to fire them toward
BEIJING (AP) -- China has urged the United States and North Korea to "hit
the brakes" on threatening words and work toward a peaceful resolution of their
tense standoff created by Pyongyang's recent missile tests and threats to fire
them toward Guam.
The dispute has also raised fears in South Korea, where a conservative
political party on Wednesday called for the United States to bring back
tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula.
In a sign of growing concern on the part of Pyongyang's only major ally,
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with his Russian
counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that the two countries should work together to
contain tensions and permit no one to "stir up an incident on their doorstep,"
according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website.
"The most important task at hand is for the U.S. and North Korea to 'hit the
brakes' on their mutual needling of each other with words and actions, to lower
the temperature of the tense situation and prevent the emergence of an 'August
crisis,'" Wang was quoted as saying in the Tuesday conversation.
The ministry quoted Lavrov as saying tensions could rise again with the U.S.
and South Korea set to launch large-scale military exercises on Aug. 21.
"A resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue by military force is
completely unacceptable and the peninsula's nuclear issue must be peacefully
resolved by political and diplomatic methods," Lavrov was quoted as saying.
China is North Korea's main economic partner and political backer, although
relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have deteriorated amid the North's
continuing defiance of China's calls for restraint. In recent months, China has
joined with Russia in calling for the U.S. to suspend annual military drills
with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang halting its missile and nuclear
tests as a first step toward direct talks.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps
Gen. Joseph Dunford, continued a visit to China following talks the day before
with his Chinese counterpart that touched on North Korea. No details of the
talks have been released.
Dunford on Tuesday told Fang Fenghui, chief of the People's Liberation
Army's joint staff department, that the sides had "many difficult issues"
between them but were willing to deal with them through dialogue.
On Monday, Dunford was in Seoul to meet with senior South Korean military
and political officials and the local media, seeking to ease anxiety while
showing his willingness to back President Donald Trump's warnings if need be.
The United States wants to peacefully resolve tensions with North Korea, but
Washington is also ready to use the "full range" of its military capabilities,
Dunford said. His visit to Asia, which also will include a stop in Japan, comes
after Trump last week declared the U.S. military "locked and loaded" and said
he was ready to unleash "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to threaten
the United States.
North Korea's military on Tuesday presented leader Kim Jong Un with plans to
launch missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam and "wring the
windpipes of the Yankees," even as both Koreas and the United States signaled
their willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path
The tentative interest in diplomacy follows unusually combative threats
between Trump and North Korea amid worries Pyongyang is nearing its long-sought
goal of being able to send a nuclear missile to the U.S. mainland. Next week's
start of U.S.-South Korean military exercises that enrage the North each year
could make diplomacy even more difficult.
North Korea's threats against Guam and its advancing missile capabilities,
highlighted by a pair of intercontinental ballistic missile flight tests in
July, have raised concern in South Korea, where some believe a fully functional
ICBM in Pyongyang would undermine the alliance between Washington and Seoul.
This has led to growing calls among South Korean conservatives for the
United States to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea after
withdrawing them in the 1990s. The opposition Liberty Korea Party on Wednesday
adopted the demand as its official party line, saying that the presence of such
weapons would strengthen deterrence against the North.
During an inspection of the North Korean army's Strategic Forces, which
handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a "close
and careful plan" and said he would watch the "foolish and stupid conduct of
the Yankees" a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test,
the state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim appeared in photos sitting
at a table with a large map marked by a straight line between what appeared to
be northeastern North Korea and Guam, and passing over Japan --- apparently
showing the missiles' flight route.
The missile plans were previously announced. Kim said North Korea would
conduct the launches if the "Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous
reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity," warning the United
States to "think reasonably and judge properly" to avoid shaming itself, the
news agency said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Washington on
Tuesday, "We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to
dialogue, but that's up to (Kim)."
Lobbing missiles toward Guam, a major U.S. military hub in the Pacific,
would be deeply provocative from the U.S. perspective. A miscalculation on
either side could lead to military confrontation.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, a liberal who favors
diplomacy, urged North Korea to stop provocations and to commit to talks over
its nuclear weapons program.
Moon, in a televised speech Tuesday on the anniversary of World War II's end
and the Korean Peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, said Seoul
and Washington agree that the nuclear standoff should "absolutely be solved
peacefully." He said no U.S. military action on the Korean Peninsula could be
taken without Seoul's consent.
North Korea's military said last week that it would finalize the plan to
fire four ballistic missiles near Guam, which is about 3,200 kilometers (2,000
miles) from Pyongyang. It would be a test of the Hwasong-12, a new missile the
country flight-tested for the first time in May. The liquid-fuel missile is
designed to be fired from road mobile launchers and has been described by North
Korea as built for attacking Alaska and Hawaii.