Tensions heighten as US and its allies fly bombers over South Korea
RUSSIA and China warned the US not to risk military action against North Korea over its latest missile test.
The words of caution came as the US sent two B-1 strategic bombers and four of the new F-35 stealth fighters flying over South Korea in the latest muscle-flexing towards Pyongyang.
The provocative exercise was a direct response to North Korea’s test launch of a ballistic missile over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Tuesday.
The show of force on the last day of South Korea and the US’s joint military drills followed Russia’s warnings to the US against pursuing military action.
In a phone call on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told his US counterpart Rex Tillerson that diplomacy was the only way to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula.
He said a military option would be “fraught with unpredictable consequences,” and reiterated that any new sanctions against North Korea would be “counterproductive.”
Yesterday China’s Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Ren Guoqiang echoed Russia’s warning saying: “Military means cannot be an option for resolving this issue.”
As tensions between the US and North Korea heighten, US citizens boarded planes from Pyongyang to Beijing yesterday ahead of today’s travel ban.
The ban was put in place following the death of Otto Warmbier, a US student sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in North Korea for trying to steal a hotel sign. Mr Warmbier was returned to the US in June in a coma having suffered severe neurological damage from an unknown cause and died shortly afterwards.
On Wednesday US President Donald Trump seemed to contradict his top cabinet officials by declaring on Twitter that 25 years of negotiations with Pyongyang had gone nowhere, adding: “Talking is not the answer.”
On Wednesday Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said Beijing was implementing UN sanctions but also pushing for a return to talks on de-nuclearising the Korean peninsula.
“China is opposed to any unilateral sanction or long-arm jurisdiction in accordance with one country’s domestic law,” she warned.