by Staff Writers
Athens (AFP) April 23, 2017
China's foreign minister called Sunday for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula amid rising tension over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes.
"China is firmly supporting the denuclearisation of the area in the name of stability and peace", Wang Yi told reporters in Athens after meeting Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
"China may not have the key to this solution ... but we are happy that more sides are accepting our point of view", he added.
US President Donald Trump has urged China to take stronger steps to press the North to curb its nuclear and missile programmes.
During a regional tour last week, Vice-President Mike Pence warned that "all options are on the table" to curb the North's nuclear ambitions, as fears grow it may be planning another atomic test.
Pyongyang has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks, threatening to hit back against any provocation.
It has also renewed threats against regional US allies, including Japan and South Korea, which both host large American military contingents.
Even Australia has received a warning from Pyongyang.
"If Australia persists in following the US's moves to isolate and stifle North Korea... this will be a suicidal act," a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called the nation a "serious threat".
On Sunday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that a US citizen had been arrested as he tried to fly out of North Korea, becoming the third American to be detained there.
"It is important for them to hold a US citizen hostage at this point to prevent Washington from carrying out a decapitation of Kim Jong-Un," Ahn Chan-il, a former defector, told AFP, referring to the North's fears that the US plans a secret military strike to topple its leader.
"It's also a resolve to point a double-action revolver against the US and China because he is a US citizen who worked in China."
Australia, New Zealand hit back at North Korea threat
The move comes as US Vice President Mike Pence wraps up an Asia tour, which has included visits to South Korea, Japan and Australia partly to reassure allies amid fears that Pyongyang may be readying for a sixth nuclear test.
"If Australia persists in following the US' moves to isolate and stifle North Korea... this will be a suicidal act," a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called the hermit state a "serious threat".
The spokesman, speaking to the North's official KCNA news agency, warned Bishop to "think twice about the consequences".
Australia's close ally New Zealand has since accused North Korea of having "evil intent".
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told Television New Zealand Sunday people knew little about Kim Jong-Un's regime but "you would assume that underneath him there is a very big machinery of people who have equally evil intent".
"It's North Korea that is sending the missiles into the Sea of Japan and making the various outrageous threats including the threats overnight to Australia," he added.
Australia's Bishop added Sunday that the North Korean government "should invest in the welfare of its long-suffering citizens, rather than weapons of mass destruction".
The reclusive state has long been seeking to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five atomic tests, two of them last year.
Pence vowed Wednesday that the US would counter any attack with an "overwhelming and effective" response after a senior North Korean official pledged weekly missile tests and "all-out war" if the US took any action against it.
In Sydney, Pence maintained calls for Pyongyang's sole ally China to do more to rein in its neighbour.
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also urged China to use its leverage over the hermit state, describing the North Korean regime as "reckless and dangerous".
He added that Australia and the US were "absolutely united" in their determination to achieve a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
Supercarrier Carl Vinson is due to start joint exercises with Japan's navy on Sunday, Tokyo's defence ministry said, with the drills expected to last several days and involve two Japanese warships.
Seoul (AFP) April 21, 2017
Geopolitical tensions flare every spring on the Korean peninsula, but analysts say the anxiety of recent weeks has been magnified by the unpredictable new player in the annual drama: Donald Trump. North Korea always intensifies its rhetoric when Seoul and Washington stage annual large-scale joint military drills that it condemns as rehearsals for a potential invasion. But this time threa ... read more
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