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06:40 9 March 2017

U.S. Amb. says "all options on table" for N. Korea

NEW YORK, March 8, Kyodo

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated Wednesday that all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea following the recent ballistic missile test that raised global concerns.

"We are stepping back and since these multiple launches re-evaluating what U.S.'s approach is going to be," she told reporters after a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on the test.

"I can tell you we are not ruling anything out and we are considering every option that is on the table," she added.

The 15-member Security Council has been largely frustrated by its inability to prevent North Korea from continuing to conduct ballistic missile tests, as well as carrying out underground nuclear tests.

Under past U.N. resolutions, North Korea is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology. But six rounds of sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to dissuade the country from pursuing what it insists are defensive weapons.

The emergency meeting was called by the United States, Japan and South Korea, to address the tests and how to move forward and came a day after the council in a press statement "strongly condemned" the test, carried out Monday morning local time, as a "grave violation" of Pyongyang's international obligations.

"The most important thing, of course, is to reduce tension and also to get on the track of dialogue, to seek progress in denuclearization and also to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi told reporters just prior to the meeting.

His country's foreign minister has called for a plan to ease tensions by asking the United States and South Korea to halt their annual military drills, which tend to amp up regional tensions, in exchange for the North's agreement to stop its nuclear and missile activities.

Of the proposal, Liu told a small group of reporters that it would require political will but "it is not hard to do."

"We have been talking to various parties concerned about this and we believe that's a very important step to take" in order to avoid "any sparks triggering a larger scale conflict or even war on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

Of the tests themselves, Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho described them as "totally unacceptable" and called them "dangerous." He pointed out that three of the missiles landed where ordinary citizens, such as fishermen, are working in deep waters and where planes and ships can be put in harm's way. The North Koreans, he said, did not issue warnings in advance.

Meanwhile, he also weighed in on the Chinese proposal, saying that, "Japan's position is it is not freeze for freeze but it should be denuclearization that we are looking for."

South Korean Ambassador Cho Tae yul was against the plan. "This is not the time for us to talk about freezing or dialogue with North Korea. All kinds of options have been exhausted so far."

As for the United States, Haley warned that North Korea had acted irresponsibly and irrationally in the past.

"We have to see some sort of positive action taken by North Korea before we can ever take them seriously," she added.

On Monday, Pyongyang fired ballistic missiles that landed in waters as close as 300-350 kilometers off Japan's northwest coast. North Korea's official media has reported that the launch was a drill simulating a strike on U.S. military bases in Japan.

In Tuesday's statement, the council members also said they "deplore all the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ballistic missile activities" and expressed "serious concern" over the country's "increasingly destabilizing behavior and defiance." North Korea's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The launches came after Pyongyang criticized the annual joint military exercises being conducted by Seoul and Washington. While the United States and South Korea consider the exercises routine, the North views them as preparation for war.

==Kyodo

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