Li calls for reduction in Korean tensions
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