World

China urges US, N Korea to avoid 'head-on collision'

BEIJING: China yesterday called on North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the US and South Korea halting military war games, to avoid what it called a "head-on collision".

"To defuse the looming crisis on the (Korean) peninsula, China proposes that as a first step, the DPRK may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the halt of the large-scale US-ROK exercises.

"The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other, with neither side willing to give way," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, using the acronyms for the two Koreas.

"The question is: are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains."

A cascade of events led to a dramatic spike in tensions in North-east Asia - North Korea fired four missiles into the sea off Japan's north-west coast on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan with the latest in a series of ballistic missile and nuclear tests in recent months, which are in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

"Holding nuclear weapons won't bring security, using military force won't be a way out. There remains a chance of resuming talks, there is still hope for peace," Mr Wang said.

His comments came a day after the US military started to deploy the first elements of its advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea.

That deployment added to the complexity of the tensions between South Korea and China, which opposes the THAAD deployment that it said destroys the regional security balance.

Mr Wang reiterated those concerns yesterday, describing its deployment as a mistake.

China said that the system's far-reaching radar can penetrate into its territory. In turn, South Korea and the United States said the THAAD system is aimed only at defending against any North Korean missiles. - WIRE SERVICES

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