China’s Korea offer
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week suggested a deal to end the long-running standoff between the US and North Korea. Mr Wang proposed a compromise whereby Pyongyang would end its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes in return for an end to huge annual US-South Korean military exercises.
The minister told reporters frictions between North Korea, Washington and Seoul were like “two accelerating trains” heading for each other, with neither side willing to give way. “The question is: are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” he said.
“Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains.”
His comments came two days after Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile test, seen as timed to coincide with the latest exercises.
The following day the first components of the US Thaad anti-ballistic missile system arrived in South Korea, which China and Russia believe is directed at undermining their own nuclear deterrents.
The issue is expected to loom large when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo this week.
Last month China halted coal imports from North Korea in line with the last US-led escalation of sanctions last year. That move drew thinly veiled condemnation of Beijing from Pyongyang, accusing it of “dancing to the tune of the US.”
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner restated Washington’s reliance on sanctions, but said: “We’re looking at other possibilities as well.”