France to send big ship for Pa­cific naval drill U.S. OUT OF PA­TIENCE

Mil­i­tary ac­tion ‘on the ta­ble’ to deal with North Korea, says sec­re­tary of state

New Straits Times - - News -

TOKYO: In a dis­play of mil­i­tary power aimed at China, France will dis­patch one of its pow­er­ful Mis­tral am­phibi­ous car­ri­ers to lead drills on and around Tinian is­land in the western Pa­cific, with Ja­panese and United States per­son­nel and two troop-car­ry­ing he­li­copters sent by Bri­tain, two sources told Reuters.

“Rather than just be­ing a naval ex­er­cise, this am­phibi­ous ex­er­cise will send a clear mes­sage to China,” said one of the sources.

The ex­er­cise will take place in the sec­ond and third week of May. As China’s mil­i­tary strength grows, Bei­jing is ex­tend­ing its in­flu­ence into the Pa­cific.

SEOUL

AUNITED States pol­icy of strate­gic pa­tience with North Korea has ended, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said in South Korea yes­ter­day, adding that mil­i­tary ac­tion would be “on the ta­ble” if North Korea el­e­vated the threat level.

Tiller­son be­gan his first Asian visit as sec­re­tary of state in Ja­pan on Wed­nes­day, and will travel to China to­day with a main fo­cus on find­ing a “new ap­proach” on North Korea after what he de­scribed as two

The move wor­ries Ja­pan and the US, but is also a con­cern for France, which con­trols sev­eral Pa­cific is­lands, in­clud­ing New Cale­do­nia and French Poly­ne­sia.

Ad­min­is­tered by the US, Tinian is part of the North­ern Mar­i­ana Is­lands, which in­clude Guam, ly­ing about 2,500km south of here.

London in Oc­to­ber dis­patched four of its Typhoon jet fight­ers to Ja­pan to train with the Ja­panese Air Self-De­fence Force.

The Bri­tish air­craft flew over the dis­puted South China Sea on the way back to as­sert over-flight rights over a re­gion most of which is claimed by Bei­jing. Reuters decades of failed ef­forts to de­nu­cle­arise the in­su­lar na­tion.

“Let me be very clear: the pol­icy of strate­gic pa­tience has ended. We are ex­plor­ing a new range of se­cu­rity and diplo­matic mea­sures. All op­tions are on the ta­ble,” Tiller­son said.

He said any North Korean ac­tions that threat­ened the South would be met with “an ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse”.

Tiller­son also called on China to im­ple­ment sanc­tions against North Korea and said there was no need for China to pun­ish South Korea for de­ploy­ing an ad­vanced US anti-mis­sile Thaad sys­tem aimed at de­fend­ing against North Korea.

“We be­lieve th­ese ac­tions are un­nec­es­sary and trou­bling,” Tiller­son said, re­fer­ring to what South Korea sees as Chi­nese re­tal­i­a­tion in the form of busi­ness re­stric­tions.

Ear­lier, Tiller­son vis­ited the De­mil­i­tarised Zone, and looked across the heav­ily for­ti­fied bor­der at armed North Korean guards, star­ing back.

He met some of the 28,500 US troops sta­tioned in South Korea.

Tiller­son also met Prime Min­is­ter Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is also act­ing pres­i­dent.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hua Chun­y­ing re­it­er­ated that talks were the best way to re­solve the prob­lems of the Korean penin­sula.

Hua also said the Thaad mis­sile sys­tem would “up­set the re­gional strate­gic bal­ance”.

“We do not op­pose South Korean tak­ing nec­es­sary mea­sures to pro­tect its se­cu­rity, but th­ese mea­sures can­not be based upon harm­ing the se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of South Korea’s friendly neigh­bour, China,” she said.

In Tokyo, Rus­sian Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Igor Morgulov urged an end to a “vi­cious cir­cle” on North Korea, claim­ing tough US re­ac­tions to nu­clear tests by Py­ongyang es­ca­late ten­sions on the penin­sula.

“We sug­gest look­ing at the sit­u­a­tion in a multi-di­men­sional way in or­der to break the vi­cious cir­cle of ten­sions,” he told Ja­pan’s JiJi Press in an in­ter­view posted on the min­istry’s site yes­ter­day.

He said “in re­sponse to North Korean nu­clear mis­sile ‘ex­per­i­ments’, the US and its al­lies take steps to bol­ster ex­er­cises and other mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity, which in turn, pushes Py­ongyang to new provoca­tive ac­tions.” Agen­cies

AP PIC

United States Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son (sec­ond from right) vis­it­ing the De­mil­i­tarised Zone in South Korea yes­ter­day as a North Korean guard films the event in the back­ground.

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