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Britain is at the heart of international efforts to solve tensions with North Korea, Boris Johnson insisted as he urged China to use its influence to end the “grave crisis”.
After the North’s latest nuclear test, the Foreign Secretary said China has a “unique ability to influence the regime” as he called on the country to use its “leverage” to ensure a peaceful settlement.
He told the Commons the rogue state’s latest test was a matter of global concern after the most “powerful nuclear device ever detonated in the history of the regime quest of an illegal arsenal” was launched.
Mr Johnson told MPs: “China, which accounts for 90% of North Korea’s overseas trade, has a unique ability to influence the regime – and the House can take heart from the fact that Beijing voted in favour of the latest sanctions resolution and condemned Pyongyang’s actions in the most unsparing terms.
“I call on China to use all of its leverage to ensure a peaceful settlement of this grave crisis.”
Commending the “dignity and restraint” shown by South Korea and Japan despite both countries being “in the firing line of Pyongyang’s reckless ambitions”, he said there had been a “steady drumbeat of provocative and dangerous actions by Kim Jong-un’s regime”.
Criticising North Korea’s “brazen defiance” of the rest of the world, Mr Johnson said: “Just as North Korea has pursued nuclear weapons with single-minded determination, so the international community must show the same resolve in our pursuit of a diplomatic solution.”
Mr Johnson’s comments came after North Korea’s ambassador in London, Choe Il, was summoned to the Foreign Office for a dressing down from Asia minister Mark Field.
Following the meeting, Mr Field said: “North Korea’s reckless actions have created a deeply dangerous and unstable situation. I urge the regime to end its illegal pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missiles and return to dialogue with the international community.”
Prime Minister Theresa May told a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes represent a “threat to the whole of the international community”.
Speaking to senior Government ministers at their first meeting after Parliament’s summer break, Mrs May vowed that Britain would continue to work with international partners to put pressure on Pyongyang to turn away from its current course.
Downing Street has stressed Britain’s “overwhelming” preference for a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
The Prime Minister is set to call US President Donald Trump to discuss the North Korean situation by telephone, Mrs May’s spokeswoman told a Westminster briefing.
Former foreign secretary Lord Hague has cautioned that Mr Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” will not deter Mr Kim from continuing with his nuclear programme.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague said: “There are no sanctions that will deter him… necessary as they are to demonstrate international disapproval.
“Nor will threatening ‘fire and fury’ or saying ‘talking is not the answer’ as President Trump did, because Kim will calculate that the US will not start a war that could be so catastrophic all round, and the stronger he gets the less likely they will be to do so.”
In a tweet, Mr Trump said: “I am allowing Japan and South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States.”
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