China voices ‘grave concern’ over North Korea missile test, urges talks

A flag outside the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland.

BEIJING/SEOUL/TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) - China on Wednesday (Nov 29) voiced "grave concern" over North Korea's test of a missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States and called for talks to peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing's proposal for North Korea to freeze weapons tests in return for the US to suspend military drills in the region was the best approach to ease tensions.

Beijing's reaction came in the wake of international condemnation of the North's launch early Wednesday morning of what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed close to Japan.

South Korea's President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump said they would talk further on measures to respond to North Korea's latest provocation.

The White House said in an account of a crisis call between Trump and Moon: "Both leaders underscored the grave threat that North Korea's latest provocation poses not only to the United States and the Republic of Korea, but to the entire world."

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meanwhile agreed to boost their response to North Korea's missile programme and urged China to do more, a government spokesman said earlier Wednesday.

In a phone call the leaders "agreed to strengthen our deterrence capability against the North Korean threat," Yasutoshi Nishimura, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters after Pyongyang fired what Japan said appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile into waters in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Trump and Abe also "agreed that China needs to play an increased role" in countering North Korea, Nishimura said.

They did not discuss military options toward North Korea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate news conference. Japan will work closely with the United States and South Korea in response to the missile launch, Suga said.

The United States, Japan and South Korea requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting to address Pyongyang's launch of what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres likewise strongly condemned North Korea's latest missile test and urged Pyongyang to "desist taking any further destabilising steps."

"This is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions and shows complete disregard for the united view of the international community," Guterres said in a statement.

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