The Latest: China tells US, NKorea to hit brakes on threats

August 16, 2017
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, in flight during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flying in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula, Aug. 7, 2017 (HST). (Airman 1st Class Gerald Willis/U.S. Air Force via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on the North Korea crisis (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

China is telling the U.S. and North Korea to “hit the brakes” on threatening words and actions and work toward a peaceful resolution of their dispute.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that the two countries should permit no one to “stir up an incident on their doorstep.”

China and Russia have both called for the U.S. to suspend large-scale military exercises in exchange for North Korea suspending its missile and nuclear test as a first step toward direct talks.

The ministry quoted Lavrov as saying tensions could rise again with the U.S. and South Korea set to start large military exercises on Aug. 21. He said a resolution of the dispute through military force was “completely unacceptable.”


12:05 a.m. Wednesday

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration remains interested in a dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un but is waiting for some sign of interest from Pyongyang.

Tillerson says: “We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to dialogue but that’s up to him.”

Speaking to reporters at the State Department on Tuesday, Tillerson said he had no comment on North Korea’s latest pronouncement that it had completed plans to test ballistic missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam but would not immediately carry it out.


6 p.m.

North Korea says that the issue of Americans detained in the country “is not an object to discuss” in view of current tensions with the United States.

A short dispatch from state news agency KCNA said Tuesday that a foreign ministry spokesman made the statement in response to foreign media reports that talks are ongoing. It did not identify which media.

The Associated Press reported last week that a U.S. envoy and his North Korean counterpart have discussed three other Americans being held in North Korea.

Another American, college student Otto Warmbier, was released in June in a coma and died shortly after his arrival in the United States.

A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned for more than two years was released last week.


2:30 p.m.

Guam officials are taking the latest missive from North Korea as a sign that the rhetoric is calming down.

Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio told the media Tuesday that North Korea appears to be holding off on an imminent launch of missiles into waters near the U.S. territory in the Pacific.

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA reported earlier in the day that leader Kim Jong Un had examined plans for a launch. It quoted Kim as saying he would watch what he called the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” a little more before deciding whether to order a test.

Tenorio said “we’re happy that he has taken a look at their plans” and appears to be holding off on a launch.

He added that there is no change in Guam’s threat assessment, and that the island is operating as usual.


12:30 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that he and President Donald Trump have agreed that preventing North Korea from launching missiles toward Guam is of utmost importance.

Abe spoke to reporters Tuesday after a phone conversation with the American president.

Their talk followed a North Korean media dispatch saying that leader Kim Jong Un had reviewed a plan to launch missiles into waters off Guam as a demonstration of its strength.

North Korea has said the flight path for such a launch would go over western Japan.

Abe said he and Trump “agreed in our recognition that preventing North Korea from launching its missiles is the most important thing.”


11 a.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says North Korea could create conditions for dialogue by stopping additional nuclear and missile tests.

Moon in a speech Tuesday also said resolving the North Korean threat could begin with freezing its nuclear weapons program.

Tensions have increased as North Korea advanced toward being able to hit the mainland United States with a nuclear-armed missile. Its state media described in detail Tuesday its plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam. But it also reported that leader Kim Jong Un would watch U.S. conduct before giving his orders for the test. That appeared to signal a path to defuse the crisis.

Moon says that his government shares a view with Washington that the purpose of strong sanctions and pressure against North Korea is to draw Pyongyang to negotiations.


10:45 a.m.

The South Korean president says the North Korean nuclear crisis must “absolutely be solved peacefully” and there can be no U.S. military moves without South Korean consent.

Moon Jae-in, a liberal who favors engagement with the North, delivered a nationally televised speech Tuesday on the anniversary of the end of World War II and the Korean Peninsula’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

North Korea has said its military presented leader Kim Jong Un with plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam. But its comments appeared to signal a path to defuse the crisis by saying Kim would watch U.S. conduct before giving his orders.

Moon said his South Korean government “will put everything on the line to prevent another war in the Korean Peninsula.” He says the “North Korean nuclear program should absolutely be solved peacefully, and the (South Korean) government and the U.S. government don’t have a different position on this.”


6:30 p.m.

North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un was briefed on his military’s plans to launch missiles in waters near Guam days after the Korean People’s Army announced its preparing to create “enveloping fire” near the U.S. military hub in the Pacific.

The Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday that Kim during an inspection of the KPA’s Strategic Forces praised the military for drawing up a “close and careful” plan. Kim said he will give order for the missile test if the United States continues its “extremely dangerous actions” on the Korean Peninsula.

The KPA’s Strategic Forces said last week it would finalize by mid-August a plan to fire four intermediate ballistic missiles near Guam and send it to Kim for his approval


8:10 a.m.

The top U.S. military officer says the United States wants to peacefully resolve a deepening standoff with North Korea but is also ready to use the “full range” of its military capabilities in case of provocation.

The comments by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford in meetings Monday with senior South Korean military and political officials appeared to be an attempt to ease anxiety over tit-for-tat threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea while also showing a willingness to back up Trump’s warnings if necessary.

Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the U.S. is “seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis.”

Dunford is visiting South Korea, Japan and China after a week in which Trump said he was ready to unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the United States.