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Russia, China Hit Back After U.S. Criticizes Them Over North Korea Crisis

  • RFE/RL

Liu Jieyi, China's ambassador to the United Nations (file photo)

Russia and China hit back at the United States on July 31 after U.S. leaders blamed them for not doing enough to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

North Korea over the weekend tested a missile with the capability of hitting the U.S. mainland, prompting Trump to tweet that he was "very disappointed" that China had done "nothing" to help the United States punish Pyongyang.

"China could easily solve this problem," Trump said, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called China and Russia "the principal economic enablers" of North Korea because of their ongoing trade ties.

"We view as groundless attempts undertaken by the U.S. and a number of other countries to shift responsibility to Russia and China, almost blaming Moscow and Beijing for indulging the missile and nuclear ambitions of [Pyongyang]," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on July 31.

"It was the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China that developed a joint road map that rules out any use of force or a threat to use force and envisages a comprehensive solution to all problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the nuclear problem, through political and diplomatic methods," the ministry said, urging all sides to "immediately" resume dialogue.

China also lashed out at the U.S. accusations, saying that Washington and Pyongyang hold "the primary responsibility" for today's escalating tensions, as well as for efforts to cool tensions.

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

Liu said both Washington and Pyongyang have ignored calls by the UN Security Council to de-escalate tensions and relaunch six-party negotiations as proposed by Beijing and Moscow.

North Korea has continued its missile tests, Liu said, while the United States has raised tensions by refusing to rule out military options and deploying an advanced antimissile system to South Korea that challenges the security of China and Russia as well.

The Chinese ambassador, in criticisms aimed at the United States, said implementation of Security Council resolutions is also being hampered by unilateral sanctions and "preconditions put to starting the dialogue" with Pyongyang.

The Trump administration has been pursuing a strategy of pressuring Pyongyang through new unilateral sanctions and appealing to China to use its influence while declaring that all options, including a targeted military strike, are on the table to block North Korea from carrying out threats against the United States and its allies in the region.

China has proposed that both sides back down from their current course toward military confrontation, with North Korea refraining from any further missile or nuclear tests, and the United States refraining from further military exercises or deployments in the region.

Liu said he also is negotiating with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley over a possible new round of economic sanctions on North Korea.

But Haley has dismissed the "road map" offered by China and Russia, saying Washington is "done talking about North Korea."

In a phone call between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 30, the White House said the two leaders "agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries near and far."

It said Trump "reaffirmed our ironclad commitment" to defend Japan and South Korea from any attack, "using the full range of United States capabilities."

Abe expressed doubts about finding a negotiated solution to the crisis after the phone call.

"International society, including Russia and China, need to take this seriously and increase pressure," he said.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax
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