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US ready to talk to North Korea without preconditions

Gorkha Post

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WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said Washington is ready to begin talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, without pre-conditions.

“We’re ready to have the first meeting without preconditions,” Tillerson told a meeting on the crisis at the Atlantic Council policy forum in Washington.

Tillerson’s new diplomatic overture comes nearly two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a breakthrough intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put the entire United States mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

“Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about,” Tillerson said.

This appeared to represent a softening in the US position, seeing as officials had previously demanded that Kim Jong-Un’s regime demonstrate a willingness to consider giving up its arsenal.

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But, the White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether President Donald Trump — who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea — had given his approval for the speech.

“The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said adding, “North Korea is acting in an unsafe way … North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-Un has vowed to make North Korea the “world’s strongest nuclear power,” tate media reported Wednesday.

Mr Kim told workers behind the recent test of a new missile that his country “will victoriously advance and leap as the strongest nuclear power and military power in the world,” in a ceremony on Tuesday, according to state news agency KCNA.

GNN/Reuters

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China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline

Thompson Reuters

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BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

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The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.

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