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China calls for end to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises

By Elizabeth Shim
China calls for end to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said China seeks a diplomatic solution to ending tensions on the Korean peninsula. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- China again called for the "dual suspension" of North Korea's nuclear weapons program and U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises on Thursday.

Beijing's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the statement before reporters at a regular press briefing, following reports Washington and Seoul are planning to begin drills on the Korean peninsula on Aug. 21, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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"Many countries including the United States have expressed their desire to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue peacefully through diplomatic means," Hua said. "The most feasible and reasonable way to do this in the tense and complex situation at present is a dual suspension" on both sides.

The Chinese spokeswoman added although "the recent situation on the Korean peninsula is showing signs of easing tensions, it is still highly complex and fragile."

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"North Korea, the United States, and other parties directly concerned with the nuclear issue should do more," Hua said. "The essence of the Korean peninsula issue can be found in the security problem, and the door to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue can really be opened when the concerns of each country are resolved in a balanced way. The most pressing issue now is to stop North Korea's nuclear and missile development, and end the vicious cycle of increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula."

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Hua also said if the United States has a better plan that "involves the peaceful resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue and the restoration of peaceful dialogue, China will support it with a positive and open attitude."

Hua added she welcomed an earlier suggestion from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to dial down the rhetoric and "dial up diplomacy."

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"This is the same as China's solution to the North Korea nuclear issue," Hua said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in previously defended the joint exercises as legitimate drills of a defensive nature, while condemning North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations as illegal.

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