Russia, China �worried� about rising N. Korea tensions

NNA – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping expressed concern about rising tensions on the Korean peninsula after a North Korean missile test on Sunday, Putin’s spokesman said.

Meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Beijing, Putin and Xi “discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula in detail” and “both parties expressed their concern over the escalation of tensions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, Xi said during the meeting that Moscow and Beijing have played the role of a “ballast stone” in safeguarding regional and global peace and stability.

Xinhua did not publish other remarks.

Putin and Xi met after the opening ceremony of a summit on the Chinese president’s One Belt, One Road initiative — a massive global trade infrastructure project to connect China to Asian neighbors, Europe and Africa.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, called for tougher sanctions against North Korea following its apparent bid to test the South’s new liberal president and the US.

“Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea,” the White House said in a brief statement.

The missile flew more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), surrounded by the Korean peninsula, Japan and the Russian far east.

It impacted “so close to Russian soil … the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased,” the White House said.

North Korea “has been a flagrant menace for far too long,” it said.

China, which has been under growing pressure from Washington to help rein in North Korea, called for restraint.

“All relevant parties should exercise restraint and refrain from further aggravating tensions in the region,” the foreign ministry said.

Multiple sets of UN and US sanctions against North Korea have done little to deter Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear and missile ambitions.

Before the missile test, the US Treasury said it was considering “every tool in our arsenal” to cut off sources of international financing for illegal activities in the North.

Trump has threatened military action but recently appeared to have softened his stance, saying he would be “honored” to meet leader Kim Jong-Un under the right conditions.

New South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, slammed the missile test as a “reckless provocation” after holding an emergency meeting with national security advisers.

He said the government strongly condemned this “grave challenge to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the international community,” his spokesman Yoon Young-Chan said. —AFP

============R.K.

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