NK issue should be solved through peaceful means: Xi

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/12 21:18:39

US Marine soldiers patrol during the US-South Korea Joint Exercise Operation Pacific Reach in Pohang, South Korea, on Tuesday. North Korea has vowed tough counteraction to any military moves that might follow the sending of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula. Photo: AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone on Wednesday, only five days after their meeting in Florida, in a bid to ease increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Xi told Trump that China is sticking to its target of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that China is committed to the peace and stability of the peninsula, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The two leaders have to keep in touch to avoid unnecessary incidents, experts say.

China believes that the issue should be solved through peaceful means, said Xi, adding that China is ready to maintain communications and coordination with the US on the issue.

"Since the US sent warships to increase tensions over the situation, it's very necessary for Xi to reaffirm China's position with Trump. Trump has to understand that military conflict on the front door of Chinese territory is unacceptable," Lü Chao, a researcher on North Korea at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

US allies Japan and South Korea are also reluctant to join unilateral action with the US, because they will be the first to be affected should any conflict occur, since they are closest to North Korea, Lü said.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he "had a very good call" with Xi "concerning the menace of North Korea."

Meanwhile, the Kyodo News Agency reported that Japan is worried about its territory being targeted by North Korean missiles if the US launches any military action. But Japan's behavior also suggests it has no choice as an ally but to follow any US action despite Tokyo's worries, experts believe.

Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported on Wednesday that "Japan is considering holding a joint drill in the East China Sea with the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, which is heading to waters off the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against North Korea."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing on Tuesday that China firmly opposes a "preemptive strike" whether it's from North Korea or the US, Kyodo reported.

China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei, who is currently visiting South Korea, also denied rumors that "China has acquiesced to the US to launch unilateral action," the Yonhap News reported.

No 'regime change'

According to a Bloomberg report on Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the US "wasn't interested in 'regime change' in North Korea," so North Korea's excuse to develop nuclear weapons is false.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang responded on Wednesday that China welcomes efforts from any relevant party on the Korean Peninsula issue to build mutual trust through dialogue.

"This is a positive signal from the US, but this is also reaffirming the old US position. Now it is time to wait for a positive response from Pyongyang," Jia Qingguo, Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, told the Global Times.

"Unfortunately the US and North Korea don't trust each other. The US wants North Korea to go back to its promise in 2007 to abandon its nuclear arms gradually, rather than merely stop the tests. North Korea believes that the US has no credibility and only nuclear weapons can secure its safety," Jia said.

"North Korea should take this as an opportunity to make compromises, or at least promise to stop nuclear and missile tests, and start communicating with the US. Under strong pressure from both China and the US, Pyongyang will very likely consider the change," said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

Trump's China trip

During the call, Xi also asked teams in China and the US to work closely together to make sure that Trump's visit to China later this year can achieve fruitful results, Xinhua reported.

In Wednesday's phone conversation, Trump said the meeting with Xi at Mar-a-Lago was a success. It is very important for the two presidents to maintain close communication, he added.

Trump agreed that the two sides should work together to promote pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of areas. The US president also said he was looking forward to his state visit to China this year. The two leaders agreed to maintain close communication through all channels.

Newspaper headline: Xi, Trump talk over phone to ease tensions on peninsula


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