China’s top nuclear envoy on Monday held talks in Seoul on the North Korean threat, as a US naval strike group steamed toward the Korean peninsula in a show of force following concerns that Pyongyang may be preparing a fresh
Wu Dawei, China’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, met with his South Korean counterpart to discuss the nuclear issue, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
The South’s deployment of a controversial US missile defense system loathed by Beijing was also high on Wu’s agenda, Yonhap news agency said.
President Donald Trump, fresh from a missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as putting Pyongyang on warning, has asked to be provided with a range of options for eliminating the North’s nuclear capabilities.
“Presidents before and President Trump agreed that that is unacceptable, that what must happen is the denuclearization of the peninsula,” US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Fox News on Sunday.
Speculation of an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks major anniversaries this month including the 105th birthday of its founding leader — usually celebrated with a demonstration of military might.
The talks of China’s top nuclear envoy come shortly after Trump hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a summit in Florida at which he pressed Pyongyang’s key ally to do more to curb the North’s nuclear ambitions.
“(We) are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after the summit.
Tillerson said the US military strike against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons was a warning to other countries including North Korea that “a response is likely” if they pose a danger.
“President Xi (Jinping) clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached
a certain level of threat that action has to be taken,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation.
The US Navy strike group Carl Vinson cancelled a planned trip to Australia and was moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula, a US official said Sunday, in what was seen as a move that would raise tensions in the region.
Seoul and Washington are also conducting joint military drills, an annual exercise which is seen by the North as a practice for war.