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China FM Wang Yi calls Russian counterpart Lavrov to `cool` N Korea situation

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Chinese FM Wang Yi said the common goal was to \'bring all the parties back to the negotiating table\'.

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16th-Apr-2017       
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AFP, Beijing :
China is seeking Russia's help to cool surging tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the country's foreign minister has told his Moscow counterpart, after Beijing warned of possible conflict over North Korea.
Fears over the North's rogue weapons programme have soared in recent days, with a US naval strike force deployed near the Korean peninsula, while President Donald Trump has warned the threat 'will be taken care of' and Pyongyang has vowed a 'merciless' response to any provocation.
China, the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline, on Friday warned that war over North Korea could break out 'at any moment'.
In a call with Sergei Lavrov later Friday, Wang Yi said the common goal of the two nations was to 'bring all the parties back to the negotiating table', according to a statement on China's Foreign Ministry website.
"China is ready to coordinate closely with Russia to help cool down as quickly as possible the situation on the peninsula and encourage the parties concerned to resume dialogue," Mr Wang told Mr Lavrov, referring to the stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear programme that includes Russia, China and the United States.
"Preventing war and chaos on the peninsula meets common interests," he added.
Beijing has long opposed dramatic action against the North, fearing the regime's collapse would send a flood of refugees across its borders and leave the US military on its doorstep.
Mr Trump insists that China must exert more leverage on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions or suffer the consequences.
Pyongyang is already under several sets of UN sanctions over its atomic and ballistic missile programmes.
Meanwhile, China issued a stern warning Friday that a conflict over North Korea could break out "at any moment", as Pyongyang vowed a "merciless" response to any US military action.
Tensions in the region have surged to fresh heights in recent days with speculation mounting that the North is preparing a sixth nuclear test.
A US naval strike force has been deployed near the Korean peninsula, and President Donald Trump has issued stark warnings that the threat posed by Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme "will be taken care of".
A clearly rattled China, under pressure from Trump to prevent any North Korean provocation, said the situation had reached breaking point.
"One has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said.
"If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner," he added during a joint press conference in Beijing with the visiting French foreign minister.
Wang's comments mirrored a warning from the North Korean foreign ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace that "thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment".
North Korea has invoked similarly dire scenarios on previous occasions when tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiked, but Beijing's warnings have fuelled international concerns that the current situation is reaching tipping point.
The North's Korean People's Army (KPA) added its voice to the bellicose rhetoric on Friday with a statement threatening strikes against US military bases and other targets in South Korea.
"The closer such big targets as nuclear powered aircraft carriers come, the greater would be the effect of merciless strikes," said the statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency.
Citing the recent missile strike Trump ordered against Syria - which was widely interpreted as a warning to Pyongyang - the KPA denounced the US president for embarking on a path of "open threat and blackmail" against the North.
It also urged Washington to "come to its senses" and find a "proper" solution to the current stand-off.
Trump's military muscle-flexing was on display again Thursday when the US on dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb it possesses on Afghanistan, targeting a complex used by the militant Islamic State group.
The American president has repeatedly said he will prevent Pyongyang from its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.

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