China calls for calm on North Korea’s missile threats

China says it will work with the US to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programme and to settle regional tensions through dialogue. 

China says it will work with the US to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programme and to settle regional tensions through dialogue. 

A Chinese statement issued during a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry said the nuclear issue was the “shared responsibility of all parties”.

The pledge comes amid speculation that North Korea is preparing a missile launch.

Mr Kerry has said the denuclearisation policy needs “teeth”. 

A flurry of warlike statements from Pyongyang has prompted speculation that it might launch a missile - possibly on 15 April, when the country marks the 101st birthday of the nation’s founder and former leader, Kim Il-sung.

North Korea has reportedly moved at least two Musudan ballistic missiles to its east coast, but on Saturday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted officials in Seoul as saying that no new movement of the mobile launchers had been detected for two days.

Since the UN imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea in February, its leadership has promised to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, has shut an emergency military hotline to South Korea, and has urged diplomatic staff to leave, saying it cannot guarantee their safety.

The North says it has also been angered by joint US-South Korean military exercises. 

Though North Korean rhetoric has been more bellicose than usual, analysts say it fits a long-standing pattern, and may be intended to boost the popularity of Kim Jong-un, who came to power last year.

In Beijing Mr Kerry held talks with President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. In comments to Mr Xi, he said the world was facing “a critical time with some very challenging issues”.

Among them were Korean tensions but also “the challenge of Iran and nuclear weapons, Syria and the Middle East, and economies around the world that are in need of a boost”, he said.

He later issued a statement saying the US and China were able “to underscore our joint commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner”.

He said the two sides would have “further discussions to bear down very quickly with great specificity on exactly how we will accomplish this goal”. 

Mr Yang said China was “firmly committed to upholding peace and stability and advancing the denuclearisation process on the Korean peninsula”.

“To properly address the Korea nuclear issue serves the common interests of all parties. It is also the shared responsibility of all parties,” he said.

Agencies

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