China to U.S.: Keep it cool
Beijing is urging use of dialogue when dealing with N. Korea
beijing» China urged the United States to remain “coolheaded” over North Korea and not to turn its back on dialogue, as visiting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed a “sense of urgency” to curb dangerous levels of tension on the Korean Peninsula.
While on his first trip to Asia, Tillerson had earlier declared that diplomacy has failed to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, and that a new approach was needed. Friday in Seoul, South Korea, he warned ominously that all options were on the table to counter the threat from Pyongyang.
President Donald Trump weighed in Friday by goading China over Twitter for not doing enough to help prevent its ally from “behaving very badly.”
But in a joint news conference Saturday with his Chinese counterpart, Tillerson struck a more diplomatic note, choosing to play down differences with Beijing and stress that both countries share the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
“We share a common view and a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now and that things have reached a rather dangerous level, and we’ve committed ourselves to doing everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out,” Tillerson said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed, but also had some advice for his American counterpart.
“No matter what happens, we have to stay committed to diplomatic means as a way to seek peaceful settlement,” he said. “We hope all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a coolheaded and comprehensive fashion, and arrive at a wise decision,” he said.
In February, China suspended coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year, a move that cuts off the regime’s major financial lifeline. Wang pledged to maintain U.N. sanctions on North Korea but said Security Council resolutions had also included “clear provisions for efforts to resume talks to deescalate the tension and to safeguard stability on the peninsula.”
North Korea has amassed a sizable nuclear stockpile and appears at the brink of being able to strike the U.S. mainland and American allies in Asia. The situation has emerged as a major, early foreign-policy test for the new Trump administration.
Tillerson said both China and the United States felt “a certain sense of urgency” in trying to persuade Pyongyang to “make a course correction” and abandon its nuclear weapons program.
In Seoul on Friday, Tillerson said the administration was exploring an array of diplomatic, economic and security measures to put more pressure on North Korea, including tighter sanctions, and that while a military response was possible if the threat from Pyongyang’s missile program grew, “we have many, many steps we can take before we get to that point.”
Previous efforts to offer carrot-and-stick diplomacy to North Korea have failed.
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