China says military means not an option to resolve Korea situation

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Wednesday the North Korean nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue, and that military means were not an option, after U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea that any U.S. military option would be “devastating”.

Bellicose statements by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in recent weeks have created fears that a miscalculation could lead to action with untold ramifications, particularly since Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated that China has all along upheld the aim of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and protecting the international nuclear non-proliferation system.

“At the same we are resolute in working for the protection of the peninsula’s peace and stability and uphold a peaceful resolution for the nuclear issue via dialogue and consultation,” Lu said.

“We have always believed that military means should not be an option to resolve the nuclear issue on the peninsula. Because arms cannot resolve the differences and can only cause a bigger disaster. No side can accept this,” he added.

“We hope all sides can avoid words and actions that intensify the problem and may cause the situation to continue to escalate.”

North Korea will be high on the agenda when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits China later this week.

While China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests and has signed up for increasingly tough United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang, it has also said efforts must be stepped up to resume talks.

During a White House news conference on Tuesday, Trump also said the use of force was not Washington’s preferred option for dealiong with the North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons program.

Despite the increased tension, the United States has not detected any change in North Korea’s military posture reflecting an increased threat, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused Trump of declaring war on the North and threatened that Pyongyang would shoot down U.S. warplanes flying near the Korean Peninsula after American bombers flew close to it last Saturday.

Ri was reacting to Trump’s Twitter comments that Kim and Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats toward the United States.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore