Russia, China Express Concern Over New North Korean Missile Test
RFE/RL May 14, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have voiced concern about rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea fired a ballistic missile on May 14, Putin's spokesman said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a visit by Putin to Beijing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders "discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula in detail" and "both parties expressed their concern over the escalation of tensions."
The ballistic missile flew more than 700 kilometers for half an hour and reached an altitude of more than 2,000 kilometers, according to officials in South Korea and Japan, before landing in the Sea of Japan between the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the Russian far east.
The White House earlier said President Donald Trump "cannot imagine Russia is pleased" with North Korea's latest missile test.
"With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil -- in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan -- the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased," a White House statement said, which also called for "far stronger sanctions" against Pyongyang.
China called for "restraint," warning against increasing tensions in the region.
"China opposes the DPRK's violation of the [UN] Security Council's resolutions," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
China has been under pressure, especially from the United States, to help rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Beijing is hosting a summit on May 14 to promote its global trade infrastructure project and delegations from North Korea and the United States are expected at the forum.
Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are also attending the summit.
China is North Korea's only major ally and economic lifeline. It has been reluctant to increase pressure to avoid upsetting the status quo and risk an influx of refugees.
The North has stepped up tests of its missile program in recent months, although several failures have been detected by South Korean and U.S. officials.
The missile flew further and higher than an intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February from the same region of Kusong
North Korea's nuclear and ballistic-missile programs have been banned by the United Nations, and many countries generally issue condemnations after each launch.
Trump previously has called the tests unacceptable. The administration has at times issued military threats and at other times offered talks with Pyongyang.
North Korea is widely believed to be developing an intercontinental missile tipped with a nuclear weapon that is capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Trump has vowed not to let that happen.
The launch is the first since South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, took office this week. He has said he favors engagement with Pyongyang to bring it to the negotiating table, in contrast to a tougher stand by his predecessor.
Nevertheless, Moon on May 14 condemned the missile launch as a "reckless provocation."
Moon's office said on May 12 that the South Korean leader urged Putin in a 20-minute phone call to play a "constructive role" in resolving tensions with North Korea over its threats to use nuclear weapons.
The launch will also complicate Moon's efforts to improve ties with China, after South Korea's former government decided to position a U.S. missile-defense system aimed at defending against North Korea.
China considers the system's powerful radar a threat to its security.
With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, TASS, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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