State paper says China would protect a denuclearized North Korea

Regarding the U.S. Navy strike force's arrival in the western Pacific, Lu said: "We hope all parties will refrain from irresponsible actions that would be very risky at the moment".

North Koreans in Pyongyang who have access to information about the outside world are curious about the upcoming South Korean presidential elections but may be afraid of the United States' next move after the air strike against Syrian military bases.

Things are expected to come to a head on Saturday, when North Korea marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim il-Sung.

Fears have been growing that the reclusive North could soon conduct its sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of U.N. sanctions and stark warnings from the United States that a policy of patience was over.

Leaders in the past have used the symbolic date to carry out weapons tests - and satellite imagery appears to show a test site being prepared.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has overseen a special forces commando operation, state media said Thursday, as tensions soar with Washington over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

Before: Trump said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is obsolete.

China has resisted taking hard action against North Korea since it has a vested interest in preserving the state, which acts as a physical and cultural buffer between China and the Western-oriented, democratic South Korea.

Military force can not resolve tension over North Korea, China said on Thursday, while an influential Chinese newspaper urged the North to halt its nuclear programme in exchange for Chinese protection.

The killing sparked a diplomatic crisis between Malaysia and North Korea which saw both countries banning each other's citizens from leaving and withdrawing their ambassadors.

Scores of foreign journalists gathered in Pyongyang for North Korea's biggest national day, the "Day of the Sun", were taken to what officials billed as a "big and important event" early on Thursday. In 2012, it tried but failed to launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite to mark the date and tested a newly developed intermediate-range missile past year.

Bartiromo asked Trump if he believed Kim Jong-un was mentally fit to serve as the leader of North Korea.

Just one day earlier, the North warned it would strike the US mainland with nuclear weapons at any sign of aggression from Washington - although analysts don't believe the country has the ability to do so yet.

Trump recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the "Southern White House", his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

"I have really gotten to like and respect President Xi".

The North Koreans wanted to know whether the centrist candidate Ahn Cheol-soo was "catching up" with the progressive frontrunner Moon Jae-in, according to the report. "The vast amount of coal that comes out of North Korea going to China, they've turned back the boats".

In another tweet, he sought to persuade Xi to put pressure on North Korea in exchange for a good trade deal with the U.S. He wrote: "I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!"

That said, analysts argue that Trump's unpredictability has unsettled China - although it's unclear whether it has been a strategic ploy to shake up the bilateral relationship and gain leverage or simply a result of circumstance.

  • Larry Hoffman