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S.Korea's Moon says door to North dialogue still open
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) July 6, 2017

Mattis slams N.Korea 'provocation' but says focus on diplomacy
Washington (AFP) July 6, 2017 - Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Thursday slammed North Korea's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile as a "provocation," but stressed the United States seeks a diplomatic solution to the standoff.

"As (Winston) Churchill put it, better to jaw-jaw than war-war. We (are) right now dealing with this very serious escalation, this provocation, this affront to the United Nations Security Council resolutions," Mattis said in his first public comments since Tuesday's test.

"We remain in a diplomatic effort engaging allies and partner nations across the board."

Mattis spoke to reporters at the Pentagon hours after President Donald Trump said he was considering a "pretty severe" response to the ICBM test.

While the Pentagon has drawn up an array of plans for a possible military intervention in North Korea, Mattis said he did not think America was closer to war because of the test.

"I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war because the president has been very clear, and the secretary of state has been very clear, that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts," he said.

Still, Mattis said any effort by North Korea to start a conflict would have "serious consequences."

"We stand ready to provide options if they are necessary, but this is a purely diplomatically led (effort) with economic sanctions and buttressed by the military position that we are taking right now," said the Pentagon chief.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In insisted Thursday he was ready to meet the North's leader "wherever and whenever" to ease tensions after its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Speaking in Germany on the eve of a G20 summit, Moon said it was "dangerous" there was "no dialogue whatsoever" with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un.

"When the conditions are met, I am prepared to meet the North Korean ruler wherever and whenever," he told an audience at a think-tank in Berlin, calling for a "long dialogue for peace and detente".

"It should be used as an occasion to stop the conflicts and it is important to start and to take the first step."

On a visit to Washington last month, Moon laid out his conditions for full-fledged talks for nuclear dismantlement including North Korea refraining from nuclear and missile tests and promising a nuclear freeze.

Moon said the offer for talks was on the table despite his renewed call for toughened sanctions against the North.

"The international community should take a firm stance toward North Korea also with greater sanctions and more pressure with regard to their military activities," he said.

"But also we should underline very clearly that the window of dialogue is still open, completely."

Before talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin late Wednesday, Moon condemned Pyongyang for a "major provocation" with this week's test and said the international community would "examine possibilities of ramping up sanctions".

Merkel, the G20 host, also spoke out in favour of punitive action against the North, saying that discussions between her and Moon "will focus on how best we can react, how we can keep up the pressure, how we can further ramp up sanctions".

For its part, Pyongyang warned it would be a "piece of cake" to destroy "gangster" South Korea, state media reported Thursday, as it raged against Seoul for a joint missile drill with the US following its missile test.

EU, Japan urge additional NKorea sanctions after missile test
Brussels (AFP) July 6, 2017 - The EU and Japan on Thursday called for further sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of repeated UN resolutions.

The test has racked up tensions in the region pitting Washington, Tokyo and Seoul against China, Pyongyang's last remaining major ally.

US President Donald Trump earlier Thursday urged the international community to ensure North Korea faced the "consequences" of its action while warning he was considering a "severe" response.

EU president Donald Tusk said after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Brussels on a landmark free trade accord that both sides shared basic values about how a rules-based global order should work.

Against this backdrop, they "agreed to call on the international community to strengthen measures aimed at further restricting the transfer of relevant items and technologies as well as funding for North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes."

"In this regard, we appeal for the early adoption of a new and comprehensive UN Security Council resolution," Tusk told a press conference with Abe and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker.

In an accompanying joint statement, the three said they shared "the view that North Korea, a top priority on the international agenda, increasingly poses a new level of threat to international peace and security."

"North Korea must refrain from any further provocations that further increase regional and international tensions," they added.

At a separate meeting with Abe at NATO headquarters in Brussels, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the gravity of the threat.

"Pyongyang continues its nuclear and ballistic missile tests and the missile ranges are increasing," Stoltenberg told reporters alongside the Japanese premier.

"All of these nuclear and missile tests are a clear breach of UN Security Council Resolutions and a threat to international peace and security," he said.

North Korea must stop the tests, abandon its missile and nuclear programmes and "engage in real dialogue with the international community," he added.

For his part, Abe said he wanted to boost cooperation between NATO and Japan "because the security environment has become more difficult," as shown by North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions, and by tensions in the East and South China Seas.

Abe did not cite China by name but his remarks clearly reflected Tokyo's deep unease over a series of bitter maritime disputes of its own and other countries with Beijing.

China meanwhile warned against "words and deeds" that could heighten tensions over North Korea and pressed again for negotiations.

China defends N.Korea efforts, after Trump outburst
Beijing (AFP) July 4, 2017
China defended its "relentless efforts" to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue on Tuesday following a Twitter outburst from US President Donald Trump, as Pyongyang claimed to have tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. The US president has piled pressure on China to use its diplomatic and economic clout over North Korea, its Communist ally, to persuade Pyongyang to stop its nuclear ... read more

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