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Uluslararası Savunma Haberleri-AFP
19.03.2017 02:59


NKorea-US-China-military-nuclear-missile-diplomacy,WRAP Xi to meet Tillerson as N.Korea lobs latest taunt By Dan Martin Beijing, March 19, 2017 (AFP) - Top US diplomat Rex Tillerson prepared to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday just hours after a North Korean rocket engine test added new pressure on the big powers to address the threat from Pyongyang. North Korean state media said early Sunday that the isolated regime had tested a powerful engine hailed by leader Kim Jong-Un as a "new birth" for its rocket industry. The test seemed timed with the Beijing visit of the US Secretary of State, who has sought to ramp up pressure on defiant North Korea over its nuclear programme and missile threats. After talks with his counterpart Wang Yi on Saturday, Tillerson warned that regional tensions had reached a "dangerous level." The two diplomats pledged to work together toward denuclearising Kim's rogue regime, but did not offer clear details on how. Tillerson was to meet with Xi around 11.00 am (0300 GMT). It was not immediately clear whether the two would discuss North Korea's latest thumb in the eye. The North's state news agency KCNA said Kim had overseen the rocket engine test and "emphasised that the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries" -- a possible warning to Pyongyang's adversaries. The report hinted the new engine could be used to put a satellite in orbit. Outside observers say the nuclear-armed Pyongyang's space programme is a fig leaf for military use, as rocket engines are easily re-purposed for missiles. North Korea is banned by the international community from pursuing nuclear and missile programmes but has defiantly ploughed ahead. It staged its two latest nuclear tests last year and recently fired off missiles that it described as practice for an attack on US bases in Japan. - 'Historic significance' - The test shows North Korea can match "world-level" satellite delivery capabilities, KCNA said Sunday. "The leader (Kim) noted that the success made in the current test marked a great event of historic significance as it declared a new birth," of North Korea's rocket industry, it added. En route to Beijing, Tillerson visited US allies Japan and South Korea where he declared Washington would drop the "failed" approach of patient diplomacy with Pyongyang, warning that American military action against the North was "on the table". But he has taken a markedly milder tone in China -- the one country with the most potential leverage on its neighbour North Korea and which favours restraint and diplomacy. The Xi-Tillerson meeting comes with delicate negotiations under way for a potential first summit between Xi and US President Donald Trump next month in the United States. Trump has been a frequent China critic, and the summit could be crucial in setting a lasting tone in the big-power relationship between the world's two largest economies. The North's last previous ground test of a high-powered rocket engine was in September, also observed by Kim, who called for more rocket launches to put "geostationary satellites" into orbit. North Korea is attempting to show it was making progress in developing a long-range inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, said Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. "The North is hinting strongly that it will soon launch a new satellite rocket," he told AFP. It may also be preparing for a secret intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test using a mobile launcher, Yang added. North Korea insists that it needs a nuclear and missile capability for self-defence. It has in years past ramped up sabre-rattling to prompt multi-party diplomatic negotiations, including China and the United States, on eliminating its nukes. The economically strapped North won food and other aid in return for powering down its nuclear programme, only to restart it later after talks eventually collapsed. dma/fa

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