Tuesday 17 October 2017

Latest: Switzerland offers to mediate to help resolve North Korean nuclear crisis

'Big powers have a responsibility'

In this undated photo distributed Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, by the North Korean government, leader Kim Jong Un, left, visits the Chemical Material Institute of Academy of Defense Science at an undisclosed location in North Korea. North Korea's state media released photos that appear to show concept diagrams of the missiles hanging on a wall behind leader Kim Jong Un, one showing a diagram for a missile called
In this undated photo distributed Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, by the North Korean government, leader Kim Jong Un, left, visits the Chemical Material Institute of Academy of Defense Science at an undisclosed location in North Korea. North Korea's state media released photos that appear to show concept diagrams of the missiles hanging on a wall behind leader Kim Jong Un, one showing a diagram for a missile called "Pukguksong-3." Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Samuel Osborne

Neutral Switzerland is prepared to act as a mediator to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, Swiss President Doris Leuthard has said.

Ms Leuthard said Swiss troops were deployed on the demarcation zone between South Korea and North Korea and the country had a long history of neutral diplomacy.

But China and the United States had to take their share of responsibility, she added.

"We are ready to offer our role... as a mediator," Ms Leuthard told a news conference.

(L-R) Swiss President Doris Leuthard, her husband Roland Hausin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan stand in front of a panda ice sculpture as they launch the Swiss-Sino year of tourism on the side line of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Laurent Gillieron/Pool
(L-R) Swiss President Doris Leuthard, her husband Roland Hausin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan stand in front of a panda ice sculpture as they launch the Swiss-Sino year of tourism on the side line of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Laurent Gillieron/Pool

"It is really time now to sit down at a table. Big powers have a responsibility."

South Korea said it was talking to the United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula after signs North Korea might launch more missiles in the wake of its sixth and largest nuclear test.

The UN Security Council has scheduled a second emergency meeting in a week about North Korea after a powerful nuclear test explosion added another layer of urgency for diplomats wrestling with what to do about the North's persistent weapons programmes.

Scheduled after North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb underground on Sunday, the emergency session comes six days after the council strongly condemned Pyongyang's "outrageous" launch of a ballistic missile over Japan.

Less than a month ago, the council imposed its stiffest sanctions so far on the reclusive nation.

North Korea is "deliberately undermining regional peace and stability," the council said when it rebuked the latest missile test, reiterating demands for the country to halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

North Korea said it tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile on Sunday, prompting a warning of a "massive" military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened.

"We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea," US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said after meeting Donald Trump and his national security team.

"But as I said, we have many options to do so."

The US President previously vowed to stop North Korea developing nuclear weapons and said he would unleash "fire and fury" if it threatened US territory.

Independent News Service

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