Theresa May: China must put pressure on North Korea to stop missile tests

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Theresa May has said China must do more to stop North Korea’s “outrageous” missile strikes, and refused to rule out British military action against the rogue state.

The Prime Minister insisted the UK would be doubling its efforts to put pressure on dictator Kim Jong-un to stop the missile tests as she arrived in Japan for a state visit.

She landed just 36 hours after Pyongyang fired a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Mrs May has gone ahead with the visit, which will focus on trade and security, despite the growing tensions between Western countries and the rogue state.

Theresa May is greeted by dignitaries as she arrives in Japan (Getty Images)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Monday’s missile strike an “unprecedented threat” while US President Donald Trump called it an act of “contempt”.

On arriving in Kyoto, Mrs May said: “We are very clear that the actions of North Korea are illegal. I think that they are significant actions of provocation.

“I think it is outrageous. That’s why will be working with our international partners, as we have done previously, but we will be re-doubling our efforts with our international partners to put pressure on North Korea to stop these illegal activities.”

Pedestrians in Japan watch the news on a huge screen displaying the path of the North Korean missile (AFP/Getty Images)

She went on: “China has a key role to play here in terms of the pressure they can bring on North Korea.”

Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes were already on the agenda for the three-day visit, which begins in Kyoto.

Mrs May will attend a meeting of the Japanese National Security Council on Thursday, with former Australian premier Tony Abbott the only other foreign leader to have been given the honour.

The Prime Minister refused to rule out future British military action against North Korea or cyber warfare after being quizzed by reporters four times on the issue.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (REUTERS)

Mrs May said: “I think what I have made clear is what the UK is looking at and what the UK doing and that is looking at pressure on North Korea, which is discussions about further sanctions and it’s about the sort of change that China can bring. I think they are a key player in this.”

As well as talks with Japanese counterpart Mr Abe on boosting security and defence co-operation, Mrs May will be pushing for progress on an “ambitious” trade deal ready for when the UK quits the European Union.

The PM wants to use the trade agreement being finalised between the EU and Japan as the basis for a future pact with the Britain.

She will attempt to reassure Japanese businesses that the UK will not fall off a cliff-edge when it quits the EU.

Mrs May said: “When we leave the European Union, there’s obviously a number of trade deals that the EU has with other countries and we are looking the possibility of those being able to be brought over into trade deals with the United Kingdom.”

A 15-strong delegation of UK business leaders, along with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox are flying out for the visit and will attend the UK Japan business forum in central Tokyo, where the PM will make a speech.

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