N.Korea says it's not afraid of USA threat of military strike

The United States is looking forward to the first meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday, on the final day of a swing through Asia dominated by concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Tillerson's visit followed his remarks in South Korea on Friday in which he warned that pre-emptive military action against North Korea might be necessary if the threat from their weapons program reaches a level "that we believe requires action".

"We will work together to see if we can bring the government in Pyongyang to a place, where they want to make a different course, make a course correction and move away from their development of the nuclear weapons".

Wang said China had made "important contributions" to supporting U.S. engagement with Pyongyang but stressed it was, at its core, an issue between the United States and North Korea.

Tillerson's use of Beijing's formula may leave the Trump administration open to criticism that either Tillerson bent over too far backwards to placate his Chinese hosts, or he failed to articulate the US vision of the relationship, perhaps because it has yet to come up with a coherent policy towards China and Asia.

Kim Ki-Jung, another foreign policy adviser to Moon and professor at Yonsei University, told Reuters he had tried to convince USA military officials and diplomats in Washington last month that the deployment of the THAAD should be left to the leader who succeeds Park.

As North Korea's most important source of diplomatic support and economic assistance, China has grown increasingly concerned about the possibility of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Tillerson's counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, meanwhile insisted at the briefing that the USA had reached a "fundamental consensus" on dealing with the North Korean issue.

North Korea is working to develop nuclear missiles that can reach the U.S. "All options are on the table".

The frontrunner in the May 9 presidential election in South Korea, Moon Jae-in, would likely "do a review of the validity of the decision" regarding deployment of THAAD missiles, said Choi Jong Kun, a professor at Yongsei University and an adviser to Moon on foreign policy.

Wang said that includes strictly implementing United Nations sanctions on North Korea, while seeking a resumption of six-party negotiations, with the ultimate goal of ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. The North conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests previous year.

China has stridently opposed the deployment of a US missile defense system to South Korea, saying its X-band radar can peer deep into China to monitor flights and rocket launches.

"If the businessmen-turned US authorities thought that they would frighten (North Korea), they would soon know that their method would not work", he said. State Department officials have described it as a "listening tour" as the administration seeks to coordinate with its Asian partners on a coherent North Korea policy.

Xi also invited Trump to visit China, it added. His pick for US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has said he would use a "multifaceted approach" to cracking down on Chinese trade abuses.

On Saturday, Tillerson arrived in Beijing with an official visit to meet with China's top officials.

The US also urged China to pursue fair trade relationships that would benefit both sides after the US President repeatedly criticised China's trade surplus. He has also said the US would not continue participating in the U.N. Human Rights Council unless it undergoes "considerable reform".

  • Leroy Wright