Li calls for re­duc­tion in Korean ten­sions

New Straits Times - - World -

BEI­JING: Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang called yes­ter­day for new talks to re­duce ten­sions on the Korean Penin­sula, ahead of a visit to the re­gion this week by United States Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son that is ex­pected to fo­cus heav­ily on ef­forts to end North Korea’s nu­clear weapons and mis­sile pro­grammes.

Li said China was a strong sup­porter of United Na­tions res­o­lu­tions aimed at nudg­ing the North to­wards end­ing its pro­grammes, and had “fully com­plied” with eco­nomic sanc­tions on Py­ongyang.

He ac­knowl­edged the ris­ing ten­sions on the Korean Penin­sula and north­east Asia in gen­eral, say­ing any con­flict would be dis­as­trous for all sides.

“So, what we hope is that all the par­ties con­cerned will work to­gether to de-es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion, get is­sues back on the track of di­a­logue and work to­gether to find proper so­lu­tions,” Li said at his an­nual news con­fer­ence held on the fi­nal day of the an­nual leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

In Tokyo, Tiller­son landed here to be­gin a first tour of Asian cap­i­tals un­der the shadow of North Korea’s nu­clear pos­tur­ing.

Tiller­son has promised to take a tough line on Kim Jong-un’s iso­lated regime as he talks to allies Ja­pan and South Korea, and to ri­val great power China.

US of­fi­cials con­firmed North Korea’s provoca­tive be­hav­iour would be “front and cen­tre” as Tiller­son meets Ja­pan’s prime min­is­ter, Shinzo Abe, and For­eign Min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida to­day.

Af­ter Tokyo, it will be on to Seoul, a city al­ready within range of North Korea’s ar­tillery and rocket bat­ter­ies, for talks with the act­ing leader af­ter a cor­rup­tion scan­dal saw pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye ousted last week.

And then, at the week­end, there will be his much-an­tic­i­pated trip to Bei­jing, amid re­ports that Tiller­son will seek to fi­nalise plans for Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping to visit Trump next month.

China is Py­ongyang’s most im­por­tant diplo­matic ally and eco­nomic part­ner, and has been un­der grow­ing pres­sure from the US to use its in­flu­ence to rein in ac­tions by the North seen as provoca­tive. Agen­cies

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