US rejects Chinese proposal to reduce tension with North Korea

The US said all previous attempts to pursuade North Korea to halt its nuclear programme have failed and there's a need to find "new ways" to engage.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 09, 2017, 10:44 AM IST

Washington: The US has rejected a Chinese proposal aimed at reducing tension in the Korean peninsula, saying all previous attempts to pursuade North Korea to halt its nuclear programme have failed and there's a need to find "new ways" to engage.

State Department's acting spokesman Mark Toner said the defence cooperation between the US and South Korea can not be compared to the "blatant disregard" the North has shown to international laws.

Pyongyang's behaviour has not been rational and the world needs to understand that concerns over its nuclear programme "isn't about the US and North Korea," Toner said, adding that "every nation needs to look at how we can better respond."

"Efforts up until today, whether it's six party talks, whether it's sanctions, all of the efforts that we have taken this far to attempt to persuade North Korea to again engage in meaningful negotiations, have fallen short. So we need to look at new ways to convince them, to persuade them that it's in their interest," he said.

China had yesterday proposed a formula to avoid a "head-on collision" between the US and North Korea, suggesting that its close-ally suspend its nuclear programme and the US and the South stop their military exercises in the tensed peninsula.

Toner said China is "obviously concerned" about the threat to the region from North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

"That's legitimate. We all share concern over North Korea's actions. We differ somewhat in our approach," he said.

He said the US is open to dialogue with North Korea, but "the onus is on North Korea to take meaningful actions toward secularisation and refrain from provocations."

The issue will be on the agenda during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson scheduled visit to South Korea, Japan and China next week. "It's going to be an opportunity for him to sit with his counterparts in China, in Korea, and in Japan, and talk through what our options are and new ways to look at resolving the situation," Toner added.

At the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the US and China can work together to address the threat.

"We're very troubled by the launch of missiles from North Korea. I think that's why the THAAD missile system that we've started to deploy into South Korea is so important," he said referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system the US Army has placed in South Korea.

The THAAD system is designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.

North Korea has in 2016 carried out two nuclear tests and 20 ballistic missile tests, all in violation of international law, according to US authorities.