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April 28, 2017

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China welcomes softer tone by US

CHINA yesterday welcomed an apparently softer tone by the United States on the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis but stressed its opposition to a US missile defense system being deployed in South Korea.

China has long promoted dialogue to resolve the “Korean nuclear issue” as North Korea repeatedly threatened to destroy the US which in turn warned that “all options are on the table” in ending provocations.

The Trump administration said yesterday it aimed to push North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and missile programs, which are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, through tougher international sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

“The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations toward that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies,” it said in a statement.

Asked about the US comments, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had noted that many US officials had recently made such remarks.

“We have noted these expressions, and have noted the message conveyed in these expressions hoping to resolve the Korean nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and consultation,” he said.

“We believe this message is positive and should be affirmed.”

South Korea said the deployment of a US anti-missile defense system was moving ahead a day after angry protests and fierce opposition from China.

On Wednesday it moved parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to its deployment site on a golf course about 250 kilometers south of the capital, Seoul, signaling a faster installation of the system.

Several hundred villagers protested near the site, hurling water bottles at vehicles moving the parts in.

The US Commander in the Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris, said the system would be operational “in coming days.”

A photograph taken of the site showed a THAAD interceptor on the back of a mobile launcher erected and pointed skyward.

China says the system’s advanced radar can penetrate deep into its territory and undermine its security.

“The deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea damages the regional strategic balance and stability. The Chinese side is resolutely opposed to this,” defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters.

“China’s military will continue to carry out live-fire military exercises and test new military equipment in order to firmly safeguard national security and regional peace and stability.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats described North Korea on Wednesday as “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority.”

The US signal of a willingness to exhaust non-military avenues came as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group approached Korean waters, where it will join the USS Michigan nuclear submarine.

North Korea, which conducted its biggest artillery exercise to mark the 85th anniversary of its military’s creation on Tuesday, says it needs to develop weapons to defend itself from US aggression.


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