US, North Korea to ease tensions, not China: Chinese diplomat

 China's Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi speaks at a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York City.
China's Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi speaks at a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York City.PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - China hit back at the United States over North Korea on Monday (July 31), with its ambassador to the United Nations saying Washington and Pyongyang bore primary responsibility for easing tensions, not Beijing.

"No matter how capable China is, China's efforts will not yield practical results because it depends on the two principal parties," Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters at the United Nations.

"They (the United States and North Korea) hold the primary responsiblity to keep things moving, to start moving in the right direction, not China," he told a news conference at the end of China's month-long presidency of the Security Council.

On Sunday, Liu's US counterpart Nikki Haley spurned a UN response to Pyongyang's latest ICBM launch in favour of bomber flights and missile defence system tests, saying the time for talk on North Korea was "over."

US President Donald Trump warned on Saturday that he would no longer allow China to "do nothing" on North Korea, after the hermit state launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile test.

China is North Korea's main trade partner and ally. Trump has been at loggerheads with Beijing over how to handle President Kim Jong Un's regime, and has repeatedly urged China to rein in its recalcitrant neighbour, but Beijing insists dualogue is the only practical way forward.

The North Korean leader boasted of his country's ability to strike any target in the US after an intercontinental ballistic missile test Friday which weapons experts said could even bring New York into range.

US strategic bombers on Saturday flew over the Korean peninsula and on Sunday American forces successfully tested a missile interception system which the US hopes will be installed on the Korean peninsula.

Liu said China had been urging North Korea and "other relevant countries not to exacerbate the situation... by avoiding language and action that heightens tension."

The Security Council has imposed six sets of sanctions on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.