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US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in South Korea on Friday, kicking off a maiden Asia tour during which he is expected to push China to rein in an increasingly belligerent North Korea. The whirlwind three-day trip will include stops in Beijing and Tokyo on what is being seen by observers as a “getting to know you” tour.
A top US official travelling with Kerry said China had a key role to play in the current crisis on the Korean peninsula which has been caught in a cycle of escalating tensions since North Korea’s nuclear test in February.
“China has a huge stake in stability, and the continued North Korean pursuit of a nuclear-armed missile capability is the enemy of stability,” the official said.
Kerry arrived as news broke of a report compiled by the US military spy agency that suggested Pyongyang had the ability to launch a nuclear-armed ballistic missile.
Kerry was due to be briefed first-hand on the tensions from top US military commanders on the ground in South Korea, ahead of meetings with new South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se.
South Korean and US forces are currently on heightened alert ahead of a widely-expected missile test-launch by North Korea.
Philippines Daily Inquirer