Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global | By Doris Richards

China warns U.S. to stay 'coolheaded' on North Korea

China warns U.S. to stay 'coolheaded' on North Korea

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Friday that military action against North Korea "option is on the table", an indication that President Trump is prepared to confront the North's nuclear threat more aggressively.

In South Korea on Friday, Mr Tillerson issued the starkest threat to date against North Korea, which has been testing missiles and atomic weapons in defiance of global sanctions, when he said that pre-emptive military action against North Korea might be necessary if the threat from its weapons programme reaches a level "that we believe requires action". At a news conference following their meeting, Tillerson said he reiterated the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program, adding that the two sides promised to cooperate in order for Pyongyang to make better decisions.

While he stressed that the US does not want military conflict, North Korean missile threats "would be met with an appropriate response".

He said Wang and he agreed to work together to persuade North Korea "make a course connection and move away from the development of their nuclear weapons".

North Korea carried out two nuclear tests a year ago, and in January a senior North Korean official told NBC News that the country was ready to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile "at any time, at any place".

"Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict", he said.

North Korea became the eighth nation to have nuclear capabilities after successfully testing its first nuclear weapon in October 2006, CNN notes. Last month, another two South Koreans who help North Korean defectors were arrested in China.

After Donald Trump assumed the US presidency, the US-China ties have been under cloud with Trump indicating that he may take a different approach to the issues that China finds vital to its interests. Tillerson will meet with President Xi Jinping in Beijing this weekend.

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Hundreds of South Koreans protested on Saturday against the deployment of a US missile defence system, a day after the visiting US Secretary of State reiterated that its installation would go ahead.

In an interview shortly before his Beijing trip with the Independent Journal Review, Tillerson said Trump and Xi should have further conversations.

China in the past has vehemently opposed U.S. naval ships and bombers passing through the disputed South China Sea, saying the United States is militarising the region by deliberately sending military vessels. "It is looking for more balanced trade ties and greater Chinese contribution to peace and stability, especially in dealing with North Korea", Glaser said.

"We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthening of the ties between China and the USA, and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation", he said.

On the campaign trail a year ago, candidate Donald Trump pilloried China as a security threat and, particularly, a stealer of American jobs.

"In return, North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons and launched ballistic missiles".

Under the Obama policy, the United States ruled out engaging the North until it made a tangible commitment to denuclearisation, hoping that internal stresses in the isolated country would bring about change. China realizes that a personal rapport with Trump is important, and watched in consternation as Japan's President Shinzo Abe stole a march on them with an early visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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