Up to U.S., North Korea to ease tensions, not China: China U.N. envoy

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China’s U.N. ambassador said on Monday it is primarily up to the United States and North Korea, not Beijing, to reduce tensions and work toward resuming talks to end Pyongyang’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs.

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North Korea on Friday conducted its second test this month of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he was “very disappointed” China had done “nothing” for Washington with regards to North Korea.

“(The United States and North Korea) hold the primary responsibility to keep things moving, to start moving in the right direction, not China,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told a news conference to mark the end of Beijing’s presidency of the U.N. Security Council in July.

“No matter how capable China is, China’s efforts will not yield practical results because it depends on the two principal parties,” Liu said. Without naming anyone, he also accused “relevant countries” of violating Security Council resolutions by heightening tensions and failing to resume negotiations.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday the United States is “done talking about North Korea” and China must decide if it is willing to back imposing stronger United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang.

“We’re constantly in touch. Communication has never stopped on what the council should do,” Liu told reporters. “The new resolution is under discussion in the Security Council.”

For nearly a month, the United States has been in talks with North Korean ally China on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea. Haley gave China a draft text after North Korea’s July 4 ICBM test.

Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated sanctions on North Korea before formally involving other council members.

Liu said China was looking at the best way Security Council action could achieve de-nuclearization, maintenance of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and a resumption of talks.

“And also what measures should be put in place to prevent further (missile) testing and at least to make sure that the non-proliferation regime works better to stop the nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” he said.

He reiterated China’s opposition to the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system, known as THAAD, in South Korea.

“That is not the way to counter the purported testing by(North Korea),” he said. “It has a big negative impact on the strategic stability of the region.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Riham Alkoussa; Editing by James Dalgleish