Russia diplomat faults U.S. for North Korea provocations

By Elizabeth Shim  |  May 1, 2017 at 9:24 AM
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May 1 (UPI) -- As tensions rise on the Korean peninsula in the wake of North Korea's failed missile test early Saturday, Russia is placing equal blame on Pyongyang and Washington for provocations.

Russian criticism of U.S. policy in Asia comes as President Donald Trump marks his first 100 days in office, and a Japan-based pro-North Korea newspaper excoriated Trump for the lack of a "clear strategy" and for his "transactional" approach to foreign policy.

Russian Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov said Sunday Moscow is opposed to a military solution on the peninsula, and urged all parties to resume talks instead, Tass news agency reported.

"Regarding the North Korea nuclear issue, the position of Russia and China are close enough to be in agreement," Denisov said, referring to Beijing's call to stay away from military action. "We strongly condemn North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, not only because it poses a threat to regional security but also, to some extent, strengthens U.S. deterrence."

Denisov also said the U.S. defense posture in Asia has "attack potential."

The top Russian diplomat to China also said there "is no military solution to issues on the Korean peninsula," while adding "North Korea has already launched nine missiles since Trump assumed office."

Denisov voiced his "strong opposition" to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD in South Korea, where it was described as "operational," according to Seoul's joint chiefs of staff.

The deployment of THAAD in March has been met with opposition from China and came at a critical moment in South Korea's political cycle.

The issue became more contentious after Trump said last week he wanted Seoul to pay up to $1 billion for THAAD deployment. National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster later said that would not be the case "until any renegotiation."

On Monday, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan, Choson Sinbo, called Trump a "scam artist" following comments from the president about THAAD payment.

"While forcing South Korea to pay $1 billion for the cost of THAAD and for protection, one can see he is nothing but a vicious hooligan, a scam artist," the publication from North Korea's de facto embassy in Japan stated.

The paper also said Trump was "already struggling" after marking his first 100 days in office.

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