China urges restraint amid war of words between Trump and N.Korea

Chinese and North Korean flags outside the closed Ryugyong Korean Restaurant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China on April 12, 2016. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 25 September 2017
0

China urges restraint amid war of words between Trump and N.Korea

BEIJING/SEOUL: China on Monday called for all sides in the North Korea missile crisis to show restraint and not “add oil to the flames” amid an exchange of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the UN General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump said on Twitter late on Saturday.
North Korea, which has pursued its missile and nuclear programs in defiance of international condemnation, said it “bitterly condemned the reckless remarks” of the US president, saying they were an “intolerable insult to the Korean people” and a declaration of war, the North’s official news agency said on Monday.
In an unprecedented direct statement on Friday, Kim described Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard” whom he would tame with fire.
Kim said the North would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States and that Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear program was “the correct path.”
Trump threatened in his maiden UN address on Tuesday to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people if North Korea threatened the United States or its allies.
Asked how concerned China was the war of words between Trump and North Korea could get out of control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang described the situation as highly complex and sensitive.
It was vitally important everyone strictly, fully and correctly implemented all North Korea related UN resolutions, Lu said, resolutions which call for both tighter sanctions and efforts to resume dialogue.
All sides should “not further irritate each other and add oil to the flames of the tense situation on the peninsula at present,” Lu told a daily news briefing.
“We hope all sides do not continue doing things to irritate each other and should instead exercise restraint.”
Speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May by telephone, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the North Korean issue should be resolved peacefully via talks, state media said.
China hopes Britain can play a constructive role in easing the situation and pushing for a resumption in talks, Xi added. May, like some other US allies, has pushed for China to do more on North Korea.
Downing Street said the two leaders agreed there was a particular responsibility for China and Britain, as permanent Security Council members, to help find a diplomatic solution.
“They agreed the UK and China should continue working closely together to increase pressure on the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear program,” a spokesman said.
North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on Sept. 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions. Pyongyang said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
While China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, it has also called for the United States and its allies to help lessen tension by dialling back their military drills.
US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force the Pentagon said indicated the range of military options available to Trump.
“A continued rise in tensions on the peninsula, I believe, is not in the interests of any side,” Lu said, responding to a question about the US air force exercises.
For its part, China says it is committed to enforcing sanctions against North Korea.
Wang Jingdong, president of the world’s largest lender Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), told reporters during a briefing the bank will “strictly implement UN Security Council decisions related to North Korea and carefully fulfil relevant international responsibility.”
The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.
The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said his decision to call a snap election would not distract his government from responding to North Korean threats, pledging to increase pressure if Pyongyang failed to halt its missile and nuclear weapons development.


US not ‘afraid to tackle’ Iran regime at ‘highest level’: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP)
Updated 23 July 2018
0

US not ‘afraid to tackle’ Iran regime at ‘highest level’: Pompeo

  • The offensive is meant to work in concert with severe economic sanctions that Washington plans to reimpose in the coming months

WASHINGTON: The United States is not afraid to sanction top-ranking leaders of the “nightmare” Iranian regime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, pursuing a strategy aimed at Iranian compliance with stringent US demands.
Following Washington’s pullout from the Iran nuclear accord that stunned Washington’s closest European allies, Pompeo on May 21 unveiled the “new strategy” to force Iran’s submission to a dozen demands.
“We weren’t afraid to tackle the regime at its highest level,” Pompeo said in a speech to the Iranian diaspora in California, referring to sanctions leveled in January against Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, for human rights violations.
Pompeo also confirmed that Washington wants all countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil “as close to zero as possible” by November 4, or face American sanctions.
“There’s more to come,” Pompeo said of the US financial penalties.
US President Donald Trump on May 8 decided to restore all the sanctions that had been lifted as part of a multi-national agreement, signed on to by former president Barack Obama’s administration in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
The 2015 agreement was in response to fears that Iran was developing a nuclear bomb.
European allies maintain their support for that hard-won deal and are trying all means to save it.
“Regime leaders — especially those at the top of the IRGC and the Quds Force like Qasem Soleimani — must be made to feel painful consequences of their bad decision making,” said Pompeo, a longtime Iran hawk.
He was referring to Iran’s special forces and Revolutionary Guards.
Roundly applauded by his audience, Pompeo affirmed support by Washington for protesters in the Islamic republic.
“The regime in Iran has been a nightmare for the Iranian people,” he said.
Pompeo announced an intensified American propaganda campaign, with the launch of a multimedia channel with 24-hour coverage on television, radio, and social media.
This will ensure that “ordinary Iranians inside Iran and around the globe can know that America stands with them,” he said.
Regularly suspected of favoring regime change in Iran, Pompeo refused to distinguish between moderates and radicals at the heart of the Iranian republic.
“Our hope is that ultimately the regime will make meaningful changes in its behavior both inside Iran and globally,” he said.
Under Washington’s tougher line after withdrawal from the international nuclear accord, Pompeo has said the US would lift its new sanctions if Iran ended its ballistic missile program and interventions in regional conflicts from Yemen to Syria.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed such threats, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts Washington making decisions on their behalf.