In UN speech, China urges talks on North Korea while warning it against pursuing nuclear weapons
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday that negotiation remained the only solution on North Korea and warned its neighbours not to pursue their own nuclear weapons.
“There is still hope for peace and we must not give up. Negotiation is the only way out and deserves every effort,” Wang told the UN General Assembly.
“We call upon all parties to play a constructive role in easing tensions. Parties should meet one another halfway by addressing one another’s legitimate concerns,” he said.
He was speaking two days after US President Donald Trump in his own address threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the Chinese ally attacks.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said it would be pointless to start another round of dialogue after North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test and test-fired missiles over Japan.
China, the only Asian nation whose nuclear arsenal is recognised under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, warned against proliferation amid growing, but still far-off, calls for South Korea and Japan to develop their own weapons to defend themselves.
“There should be no new nuclear weapons states, whether it is in the north or the south of the (Korean) peninsula, whether it is in Northeast Asia or elsewhere in the world,” Wang said.
China has by far the most influence over North Korea, providing an economic lifeline, but fears the consequences if Kim Jong-un’s state collapses.
Wang, whose country has faced repeated US calls to take a tougher line, said in his address that North Korea should “not go further along a dangerous direction.”
In the same forum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday took an indirect swipe at the United States, telling the United Nations that “military hysteria” over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests would lead to “disaster.”
“We resolutely condemn the nuclear and missile adventures of Pyongyang,” Lavrov said, “but military hysteria is not just an impasse, it’s disaster.”
The threat from North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests has dominated this year’s gathering of world leaders, but divisions remain over how to confront Pyongyang.
Lavrov stressed there was “no alternative to political and diplomatic ways of settling the nuclear situation” on the Korean peninsula and called on countries to support a joint Russian-Chinese proposal for talks.
Moscow and Beijing have proposed kick-starting negotiations with North Korea by freezing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a suspension of South Korea-US annual military drills.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has dismissed the proposal as “insulting.”
North Korea in recent weeks detonated its sixth nuclear bomb and has test-fired intercontinental missiles – saying it needs to defend itself against hostility from the United States and its allies.